1799 at the Clifton Inn

You would not have experienced the best Charlottesville has to offer if you missed dinner at the Clifton Inn during your stay. Housed in a magnificent 18th century building on 100 acres of wooded beauty, the restaurant sits perched above a private lake in a setting sure to set hearts aflutter. The evening should begin in the chic Veranda bar for a sample of its fantastic martini list and then it’s on to dinner in the stylish dining room or the preferred glass enclosed veranda. When the weather is nice, the doors are thrown open and the romantic quotient hits a new high.

Tables were set with white linens topped with grass cloth place mats and sea foam colored frosted glass chargers with a fresh orchid and votive candle. Servers were dressed in white shirts with black aprons and “team” served each course. Snack on some pimento cheese and crackers while you sip one of their creative cocktails. Then try the Shrimp & Grits wit lamb sausage, goat cheese and mint oil. The seared pork tenderloin entree was served with red wine apple butter and pickled mustard. Yum. The bourbon brown butter apple crisp was served with almond cream and we paired it with a wonderful Domaine Bordenave, Cuvee des Dames.

The wine list is a nice mix of French, Italian, California, Spanish and Virginia wines. There are about 14 wines by the glass and about 8 half bottle choices. A favorite cab, Darioush, seldom seen on a wine list was here, and a $49 Louis Latour Chablis was a bargain. You’ll find plenty of good choices here under $60. Hurray!

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Very high, this is what romance is about.

“Indeed, the Restaurant at Clifton is among the best dining options in the Charlottesville area, providing an international a la carte menu (main courses $20-$32) as well as fixed-priced tasting dinners (a relative bargain at $65 per person, $90 with paired vintages). You can partake in the main dining room, which overlooks the back yard through a wall of paned windows, or at a table in the kitchen.” Frommer’s