Patty O’s is a unique Rappahannock treat
by Peggy Hyland, Contributing Writer
Got a restaurant for Peggy to review? Let us know at [email protected].
In a converted gas station in Rappahannock County’s tiny Little Washington, Patty O’s Cafe & Bakery serves up delectable food in an atmosphere of relaxed casual elegance. Named for its owner, Patrick O’Connell, the well-known chef and owner of The Inn at Little Washington. Located directly across the street from its sister restaurant, Patty O’s clearly shows the same passion for excellence. The two also excel in exceptional service, with that perfect but elusive balance of being very attentive without hovering.
Open since 2021, Patty O’s has been serving up O’Connell’s favorite food from growing up, with his own modern twists and sophisticated style. Think burgers, meatballs and hearty beef stew, elevated and reimagined for today’s consumers.
The cafe has a country style theme throughout, from the mural that greets guests immediately upon entering to metal water pitchers shaped like cowboy boots, wrapped with a Patty O’s-branded red bandana. The creative use of mirrors gives a sense of expansiveness to the interior, and beautiful glass doors open to the patio on warm days. The patio tables had cozy blankets for guests who wanted to ward off the oncoming chill of the evening, and heaters were ready to go if the temperature dipped.
The breadbasket featured truly exceptional house-made offerings from Patty O’s bakery. The wine list is small but carefully chosen, including several Virginia wines and the cocktails are imaginative and eclectic.
We could not resist the classic Southern pimento cheese dip, which came with crisp house-made caraway flatbread. It was outstanding, with a texture of tiny fluffy curds and a fresh burst from minced chives. I love caraway but never would have thought of this pairing, yet they enhanced each other beautifully without competing. We also had the tuna tartare, popping with flavor. The minced tuna tops chopped mango and avocado, with yuzu sorbet and shrimp chips. The fried onions add a new layer of flavor to every bite.
My main course was the aptly named Momma’s Mammoth Meatball, a 10-ounce Wagyu meatball bigger than my fist. It was delicately seasoned, allowing the great ingredients to shine. It was served over delicate and fluffy garlic polenta and topped with shaved Parmesan cheese. My companion chose Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon, featuring beef from a farm in nearby Paris. It is served table-side, arriving in a small Dutch oven so the braised root vegetables, perfectly tender chunks of beef, and silky sauce can be served over a bowl of egg noodles.
The bakery’s dessert offerings were exceptional and exquisitely presented. My all-time favorite cake is carrot cake, and this was the best I’ve ever had. It was moist, packed with flavor, and perfectly spiced. My companion went for the lemon pistachio tart, as much a feast for the eyes as for the mouth. Creamy delicate lemon filling and chopped pistachios were a fresh and light way to end the meal.
Whether you’re going antiquing, hiking, or just exploring beautiful Rappahannock County, make sure to add Patty O’s to your itinerary to round out a perfect day.