- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 15, 2005

It was a dark and stormy night ” it really was. The trip to Upperville, Va., and the 1763 Inn’s cozy dining rooms with their many fireplaces and warm candlelight should have taken an hour. But Interstate 66 was like an icy parking lot, and the trip took more than two hours.

At 9:45 p.m., the kitchen had been closed for almost an hour. Yet innkeepers Bernie and Megan Kirchner not only opened their kitchen to the exhausted travelers, but served an outstanding three-course dinner.

The dishes on the menu go from German-American and basic to fancy. How about ” for example ” a German bratwurst with sauerkraut and spicy mustard for starters? It was delicious, indeed, but not necessarily what one would expect on the appetizer menu at a Virginia hunt-country inn where Washingtonians go for weekend getaways.

Another tasty starter was the lobster bisque, full of delicious lobster meat, creamy consistency and tint of tomato.

The 1763 Inn salad, consisting of fresh mixed field greens, deliciously sharp Stilton, almonds and vinaigrette, was also tasty, with flavors and textures blending nicely.

Other appetizer choices include spinach-and-chevre tart with fresh herbs and garlic, and smoked salmon on toasted baguettes with organic greens.

But the real treats on the menu are the entrees. The tenderloin of venison is superb. It is marinated in a rich burgundy-wine-and-rosemary sauce (which also includes plums, cloves and cinnamon and other rich spices) and served with mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables. The meat is melt-in-your mouth tender, and the seasoning is perfect.

Another excellent choice is the char-grilled New York strip steak, an enormous cut of prime Angus beef with sherry-marinated onions and mashed potatoes. The high-quality cut was perfectly grilled to order.

Other entrees include the popular jumbo shrimp with Hennessy cognac and coconut served over rice (sold out that evening, though); breast of duck with cranberry chutney and red wine; and jager schnitzel, a pork tenderloin sauteed in brown butter and topped with mushroom sauce.

Though the restaurant always has vegetarian choices, including salad, most of its food is rich and includes several German choices. The menu changes at least four times annually, reflecting seasonal vegetables and meats, which the Kirchners say they often buy from local farmers. The restaurant also offers menus for special events such as Valentine’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day dinners.

While the appetizers and entrees left nothing to be desired, the desserts were uninspired. The apple strudel was dry, and the flourless chocolate torte was more like a brownie with a fancy name. Then again, our desserts were rolled out close to 11 p.m., two hours after the official close of kitchen business, which might account for the dullness.

The couple bought the 1763 Inn, which once was owned by George Washington (according to the innkeepers), from Mr. Kirchner’s parents, who served German food exclusively for 18 years before selling the establishment to their son and daughter-in-law.

The German influence is still felt. The main dining room is full of paraphernalia such as German bottle openers and a 3-foot-tall stein placed on the bar counter. The walls are packed with taxidermy and paintings with hunting motifs.

Two of the five dining rooms are from the late 1700s. One of the two rooms contains presidents’ trinkets such as the blue-and-white china favored by George Washington. A hall in the old area features pictures of a half-dozen first ladies, including Dolley Madison.

The contemporary china and silverware at 1763 Inn are nothing to write home about, but the food on the plates certainly is. So is the service, which is personal, friendly and attentive. The decor, too, is unique and fun and can keep visitors busy for hours, quizzing each other on presidential trivia or the how-to’s of taxidermy. Dog lovers will find a friend in Quincy, the house dog (a nosy combination of Labrador retriever and German shorthaired pointer).

We were full and contented at the end of the evening as new snow was covering Upperville’s rolling hills, highways and our car. The Kirchners came through big-time again, offering us the last room at the inn ” with a view of swans in the pond and horses in the fields.

RESTAURANT: 1763 Inn, 10087 John S. Mosby Highway, Upperville, Va; 540/592-3848 or www.1763inn.com.

HOURS: 5 to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday

PRICES: Starters, $3 to $9; main course, $17 to $27; dessert, $5 to $7

CREDIT CARDS: All major cards

PARKING: On premises

ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible

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