There is hardly a more civilized dining experience than the one offered at Plume, where you can rest assured of some seriously well-dressed and good-looking company. Tucked inside the stately Jefferson Hotel, where signed documents by President Thomas Jefferson double as design elements, this dining room echoes that mood without ever feeling fusty or musty. Dinner is a well-orchestrated symphony that may commence with an amuse-bouche of chive custard, flecked with crabmeat and artistically presented in a mini jar. This is a sure sign of other, more creative things to come—including a seasonal spectacle of parsnip and Comté ravioli in a charred leek soubise. Then New Zealand venison served with lingonberry sauce is so good you may even want to take a swipe at sopping up every last drop, while an almond-and-orange confection coupled with a rich chocolate mousse and spiced wine sorbet makes for an exalted finale. The wine list spotlights the world's top regions, but diners should ask the sommelier about top bottlings from Virginia's best producers. The late president's Lafitte may have been a fake, but the Madeira selection is par excellence with vintages that date all the way back to 1720.
- MICHELIN guide inspectors