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Hamiltons' At First & Main
Tastings - A Restaurant, Wine Shop & Wine Bar
We went for New Year’s Eve, our first visit to the Inn, because we wanted something special. They delivered. Ambiance is lovely and low key in this historic country home. Food was very good, including lobster bisque, lamb chops or rockfish, a yummy salad. Service was attentive and very cordial, though it could have used a bit more polish...the waiter took the orders in an odd way and I had to ask for a soup spoon. The only thing that made me a tad concerned was that they weren’t busier on what should be a big night out! When we left at 1030 pm, we were the last guests to leave!
Lesson learned. From now on I will call ahead for holiday menu options anywhere I go. I spoke to Clifton at least twice confirming our new year's eve reservation but no mention was made by phone or on their web site regarding a Prix Fixe menu. We drank modestly and still dropped $282 (20% gratuity factored in) for 2 people/6 total in our party. Just two entrees: a rockfish or lambchop and neither were spectacular. For this price I would expect a phenomenally prepared surf and turf, beef wellington or chateaubriand perhaps and musical accompaniment! It was a five course meal but none of the selections justified a $98 per person price tag. The bread crust was even burned in some places. The food was good, but unfortunately nothing memorable or so remarkable that we would want to try again. All six of us were first timers that had been looking forward to trying Clifton Inn for a long time so this one really stung. We apologized to our friends for not doing our homework . . .
My partner and I were staying at neighboring Keswick Hall and thoroughly enjoyed our dining experience at Clifton Inn. Beautiful decor, attentive service, and an overall wonderful atmosphere.
Wonderful dinner in a quiet but festive holiday atmosphere. Love the ambiance of Clifton Inn and food is always first rate.
We have been dining at Clifton Inn for years and experienced its various formats, menus, personnel and decor. This time three of us went for Thanksgiving. The main entree -- we all ordered the turkey option-- was fine. Not exceptional, but fine. I did not care for my appetizer, the smoked trout spread. My husband did enjoy the soup. We each had a different dessert, and were satisfied with all. Problems: No bread served until requested. (forgotten) No soup spoon, missing a butter knife, had to request water refill. In short, disappointing service. That said, they were busy, but when one pays this price, one expects more from the staff.
Excellent thanksgiving meal. Ruined by charging for coffee. After spending over $200 for dinner did they have to charge for coffee and not give the change due after bill was paid
From front of the house to the back - excellent service. Welcoming. Thoughtful, well executed holiday meal choices. Highly recommended for a special occasion. My dining partner and I both ordered Lamb chops that could not have been more perfectly prepared and presented with carrot pure' and perfectly roasted broccoli. Lovely Thanksgiving meal.
Very nice quaint old historic house turned to B&B and restaurant. Very old but turned into a beautiful setting. Building while old and historic could use a little facelift.
Food was very good but a little eclectic for some tastes. Plenty of staff waiting tables but we did experience relatively slow service. We were not in a hurry so not a problem.
We booked this for Thanksgiving. We had to give a $60 deposit up front which was fine. The meal was $72 per person for a set 3 course menu. The food was good but not great. Portions were adequate but not abundant. Service was great. Bar- charge $15 per ounce of alcohol. So, two people with 2 glasses of wine and 3 oz. of vodka- our bill was over $250 with the $60 deposit already applied. I would not eat there again.
Our evening at the Clifton Inn was amazing. Polite and attentive staff, delicious food and a quaint quiet setting. We had dinner and then had a drink at the bar area. It was a fantastic evening out!
Unfortunately we were disappointed with our dining experience. We have been to Clifton Inn more than 20 times in the last 20 years. The dining experience has changed considerably in that time period. Twenty years ago it was an event with a prix fixe menu headed by chef Craig Hartman. He left and the chef has changed multiple times and we have continued to give the restaurant a chance because of the history and ambiance. It is now Ala carte dining but this will be our last visit. The service was lacking, the waiter did not understand the wines on the wine list and they have no sommelier, waters were not refilled (they brought food and really never came back) food was ok but not for the price. We were celebrating a birthday and they were not even able to place a candle on the dessert. It was simply not the higher end experience we expected or paid for this last time.
With the new menu format, Clifton is no longer the really special dining destination it used to be.
Third stay at in...nine years ago was fantastic in all respects. Last year was markedly less impressive. This year was pathetic. Poorly trained waiter was trying hard and friendly, but overmatched. Tapas appetizer was not creative and a poor value. Entrees were very pedestrian and not quite large enough. My wife ordered decaf coffee after dinner and waiter returner five minutes later to inform us they were out of decaf coffee. This place used to be very inventive and high-end. It is a shell of its former self, in all categories. Huge disappointment.
We enjoyed our meal immensely. We ate in the dining room while a large crowd occupied the outside veranda. We were warned in advance about this group but felt our evening was not impacted much but the activity.
It is a very charming and intimate place to eat.
Having lived in Keswick for about twenty years, I can honestly say that Clifton Inn is the best restaurant in central Virginia. The atmosphere is elegant, the service impeccable, and the food is to die for. We have the halibut in season, and have never been disappointed. A bottle of Chardonnay from the Yamhill-Carlton region of Oregon is reasonable in price and unsurpassed in richness of taste and fragrance. The scenery is magnificent–perfect for a special occasion.
Nice meal, but sun in our eyes marred the first half. Too bad, servers lovely. Food was good, but also not quite up to expectations.
This is an oasis, a friendly inn restaurant with well made food that is creative but not imposing or overly celebrated. Nice bar service. Food was just perfectly done and served. Wine list is broad and with many excellent choices at each price point. We return again and again.
Clifton is absolutely one of the most charming settings one can find. Historic mansion, superb service and farm to table dining that is outstanding. My favorite for every season as the covered outdoor deck is very special. Never noisy, very relaxing. Excellent wine list.
We would go more frequently if the menu had a couple of specials. We truly enjoy the main entre selection (wonderful). But, we would truly appreciate a surprise entre special to add variety to those guests who would like to make this restaurant a more frequent destination.
Also, it would be an added feature if the small bar is set up to have a cocktail before dinner. There use to be four or five bar stools so that guests could have a drink before dinner.
We truly appreciate the new chef and the entire staff. Thank you!
When in Charlottesville always stay at the Inn and have dinner. VERY VA. IT'S THE HISTORY and the scenic views and great food brings us back each year.
Clifton has always been a top pick for dining and an absolutely beautiful setting. Service is outstanding and the Farm to Table menu is a wonderful treat.
My wife and I had a wonderful birthday meal at the Clifton Inn. Our server, Ali, was welcoming and knowledgeable. Highly recommend.
What a wonderful dinner to send off our son to school at UVA. We have been to several restaurants in Charlottesville and this one tops them all - very inventive food beautiful atmosphere and nice service in an historic site.
I booked the Clifton Inn for our anniversary dinner. We were traveling and it was recommended to us by one of the wineries in the Charlottesville, VA, area. We were warmly greeted and service was very good. Our meal was excellent. The view was lovely and we walked around the grounds after dining. It was our first time in Charlottesville and my first visit to Monticello. I was asked at least 3 times by the restaurant staff if this was a special occasion and I told them that it was our anniversary. I was curious why they asked since nothing special was done for us to celebrate this event.
Our recent visit included six people for dinner (including 2 vegans). We had alerted the Inn both when making our reservation and in following up a few days later and were assured vegan options would be available. The setting is lovely, tables spaced well for conversation, very comfortable. That said, the service is odd and disjointed. Wait staff came for drink orders moments after giving us one drink menu for six people. We asked about the vegan options and then were told nothing at all, and asked again moments later to order. It was fine, our vegan friends found an option that worked, but it came across as awkwardly disengaged. One of the party ordered a drink during the meal that was not delivered, and so more than 15 minutes later tried again. Then both drinks showed up within a minute of each other and were served. Lots of tiny issues like that.The food was excellent, let me make that clear. Absolutely spot-on main courses, interesting desserts, fresh, clean flavors. Bread with a lovely, smoky crust. Several of us had the halibut and it was cooked beautifully. The only issue is that the service seems to be a work in progress. If the service had been more engaged, this would have been a 5 star dining experience, without question. But it is absolutely worth a visit.
I live nearby and enjoy taking out of town visitors and local friends to Clifton for a great meal. They are always pleased and impressed, as am I.
Lovely evening and ambiance with delicious food - what more can you ask for? Perfect!
Clearly one of the best meals my wife and I have had in years. The duck appetizer, the scrimp and grits appetizer, the halibut, and the scallops were prepared to perfection.
Great ambiance and service.
We loved everything about our experience at the Clifton Inn. We were seated on the terrace overlooking the lovely garden at sunset. The food was delicious and beautifully presented. The staff was courteous and attentive. This is a place that we will return to.
Our first time there and look forward to a return visit. Delightful setting, ambiance, and food.
First time visiting Clifton Inn, enticed by Restaurant Week offerings. Spectacular in every regard. Will definitely return.
We went for a Restaurant Week special and it was very very good. Looking to go back.
The Clifton surpassed their usual excellence for this restaurant week meal. Delicious, imaginative food, well prepared and served in the lovely historic inn. Even though they were very busy, the pace was unrushed.
Indoor and outdoor seating available and we chose to eat indoors because of the heat and humidity (though the outdoor seating looked lovely). We went during restaurant week and all three courses were very good (for first course, we ordered duck, shrimp and grits and salad; second course: chicken and fish; desserts: toffee, chocolate mousse and gelato). Our food was served promptly and service was good; however, our waiter and people serving us our entrees and filling our water glasses didn't smile at all. It seemed that most people working there seemed unhappy or extremely formal. We noticed one waitress smile, but everyone else looked miserable working there. The hostess were friendly and smiled.
First time we visited. It's in a beautiful and historic inn with both indoor, veranda and outdoor seating. Service was excellent and the food was very good. We walked the grounds afterward and visited the pool area and pond.
This was our first trip to this restaurant for Restaurant Week and looked forward to it. The Prix fixed menu was lovely... 4 of us ordered steaks... the waiter never asked us how we'd like them cooked. When we brought this to his attention, he said, "we typically just do them medium rare" I was stunned and then disappointed, as they were served well done. The waiter seemed to just want to turn the table over as soon as possible. It was lovely to sit outside as the gardens are lovely. But sadly, it will not be a place that we recommend to others.
We went during restaurant week and realize it is difficult to serve a 3 course meal and stay within the price constraints for some. However we use the week to explore new dining options. What Clifton featured was rather tasteless and VERY small portions. I would have expected much better. Venue is outstanding, as is service.
We ate on the patio and absolutely loved the view and the music. It is probably our favorite restaurant in Charlottesville. My husband absolutely loved his first course of shrimp and grits. His halibut was divine and I loved my mushroom risotto. The sticky toffee pudding is always a must. We can't wait to go back!
It was a perfect celebration for my sisiter's birthday. Thank you for the great service and very tasty food!
The food was excellent but the service was unlike most restaurant experiences, it was exceptional.