The Dining Room at Clifton Inn

The Dining Room at Clifton Inn is located on the first floor of the original 1799 Clifton Inn building, built by Thomas Jefferson’s son-in-law, and sits at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 20 minutes from downtown Charlottesville.

You will find that the restaurant caters to the hip and well traveled, but prides itself on unobtrusive service in a family atmosphere. The culinary brigade at The Dining Room at Clifton Inn cultures its own butter, mills its own flour and forages for ingredients, a fitting self-sufficiency for a destination restaurant set in a former 19th-century trading post in Albemarle County. Don’t let the formal dining room with the baby grand piano or the sparkling show kitchen filled with copper pots fool you into thinking that dinner must be a grand affair.
Our Inspector's Highlights
• If you dine at the chef’s counter, the toques are just as likely to clear your plate as your server, while describing how they dry-age duck breast or pick snow pea shoots from the onsite garden.

• The most intimate spot for smaller groups is found at the bottom of a spiral staircase that winds into the wine cellar, and accommodates a dozen diners.

• Don’t be surprised if you see a celebrity in the restaurant. Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson live nearby, so you may bump into them noshing on crisp salads in the light and airy dining room.

• The main dining room is divided into two compartments: The first one is decorated with a whimsical seashell chandelier that softens the room’s austerity before blending into a homier space with a fireplace. The sheltered veranda is outfitted with wicker tables and chairs, filled with sunlight and mostly used for hotel guests’ breakfast.

• When you visiit The Dining Room at Clifton Inn, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy watching the chefs tend to the herb and vegetable gardens throughout the secluded, 100-acre retreat while trying one of the expertly crafted cocktails from the bar.
Things to Know
• Children are welcomed guests in the dining room and encouraged to stay at Clifton Inn.

• The official dress code at The Dining Room at Clifton Inn is business casual. That said, at dinner, ladies almost invariably wear soft dresses that accentuate the restaurant’s romantic tone while gentlemen usually begin the evening in tailored jackets sans tie but lose the extra outerwear quickly in the summer.

• The dinner-only Dining Room at Clifton Inn serves a fresh, modern-American farm menu seven days a week from 6 to 9 p.m.

• Guests of Clifton Inn hotel are treated to a full breakfast of house-cured lox and free-range eggs from 7 to 11 a.m. and an afternoon of tea and pastries with all the accouterments in the first-floor sitting room.
The Food
• A haven for Charlottesville-based locavores, The Dining Room at Clifton Inn features an all-Virginia cheese plate dressed in pecan butter and served with wines from nearby Jefferson Vineyards.

• The Charlottesville restaurant’s dynamic menu changes often and according to the seasons. The daily bill of fare is easily tweaked to suit dietary requests, such as vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options.

• If you ask nicely, the chef will stoke the outdoor grill and fire up lamb chops to enjoy poolside.
The Drinks
• The Charlottesville restaurant's signature drink, a lavender martini, is created from leaves plucked from the organic lavender path leading to the pergola-lined pool area.

• The vast wine list supports bottles from Virginia and beyond and brandishes a newly minted Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
Getting There
1296 Clifton Inn Drive, Charlottesville, Virginia 22911
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