A second visit to Madrona Manor resulted in a lovely dining experience. Madrona Manor is a very large Victorian Mansion and the dining is in a variety of rooms on the main floor. We were in the green room on this occasion. The ambiance is quiet and elegant with Victorian flair which some may consider overbearing but in the evening hours it sets a pleasant backdrop to a candle-lit meal.
Madrona Manor is not a place we recommend taking a young child for dinner. The setting is more on the romantic side. We enjoyed our dinner and although there are other spots we also like in Wine Country, Madrona Manor also has the flexibility of handling a banquet, wedding or a romantic getaway. It will not be an inexpensive outing with entrees between $19 and $39 on the night we dined, but it may be a memorable one. It's also close to the town of Healdsburg and Russian River wine tasting.
What we had:
Amuse: Sunchoke soup with truffle powder and dried thyme
This was good. I actually thought the thyme and truffle powder detracted from the experience.
Foie Gras Torchon with drunken raisins, walnuts, tiny popover, bouquet de pommes
Served with wonderful tiny popovers. The first time I’d been served a torchon unsliced. Not that it was any problem to slice it. The torchon itself was nicely balanced and good with the popovers (which were not greasy – rather light and fluffy). The only accompaniment that went well with the foie in my opinion were the raisins. Even the balsamic was not a great foil, the apple was flavorless and limp. The radicchio did nothing for the foie and the Italian parsley was downright annoying.
Crispy Kurobuta Pork Belly, french green lentils, quail egg, grain mustard
I thought this was really good. Jack was not enthusiastic about it which tells me there was something not quite right. He mentioned that it just wasn't the best and only the best is worth eating...
California Squab, forbidden rice, confit estate turnips and their greens, dried cherries and squab essence
The breast was presented sliced atop the Forbidden Rice, a black purple rice. The legs were fried and crispy, served atop a bed of bitter greens with dried cranberries? The turnip was lovely - it was filled with some sort of crème it didn’t really need, it had been poached whole and was moist without being mushy. The Squab was well seasoned but the breast skin perhaps not as crispy as it could be, but otherwise it was perfectly medium rare, tender and delicious. The crispy legs were just a bit salty which enhanced them, the crispy skin hiding moist succulent meat. Well done!
Colorado Lamb, roasted loin, grilled "filet mignon" green garlic, quinoa, lamb reduction
The loin was served sliced, the filet sat on a little pile of quinoa with a cilantro sauce on top. In between were whole baby carrots. While the lamb was good, again it did not win raves from Jack. He really did not think that the quinoa was the perfect match. The cilantro sauce had a definite Indian influence and the quinoa was perhaps the most buttery yet experienced. The baby carrots were perfectly cooked. Jack would have liked some potatoes.
Cheese Course: Five cheeses: Accapella (Andante), La Tur, Pepato, Comte, and Great Hill Blue. Served with strange walnut bread - which was more like dehydrated cake - strange but I kept eating it... Honeycomb and a small diamond of quince paste accompanied. All the cheeses were as they should be. Just enough to share amongst two, but okay for one as well.
Dessert: Warm Bread Pudding, homemade brioche, warm caramel apples, rum raisin ice cream
We took the Brioche Bread Pudding to go. In the restaurant it's served as a trio. To go we got a fluffy pouf of bread pudding tiny cubes of apple in a light caramel sauce and a scoop of Rum Raisin ice cream. Nothing not to like, this was a very nice bread pudding.
Wine: 2001 Littorai Pinot Noir Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley
An excellent wine that's still quite young.
We also ordered a 2005 Heymann Lowstein Auslese by the glass.
San Pellegrino sparkling water and Della Fattoria Breads.
Some weirdness: The chocolate that came with the check in a Madrona Manor envelope had printed piece of paper inside with the chocolate maker's info and ingredients. After reading the ingredients we would not eat the chocolate. A really strange and poor finish to an otherwise enjoyable dinner.
Notes on Service: The service was very attentive, perhaps a bit too much so at times. The course timing was pretty good with lots of space to linger over a glass of wine. I ordered the dessert to go "with the check" but it arrived before the cheese course.
Winemaker Series Dinner Williams Selyem 2001 Williams-Selyem Chardonnay Hawk Hill Vyd paired with
Rock Shrimp “Shish Kebab”
This appetizer was uninspired. Two rock shrimp skewered on a toothpick with bits of blanched red bell pepper. It tasted fine but not distinctive. Not much taste at all. The wine was pleasant.
2001 Williams-SelyemChardonnay Heintz Vyd paired with
Mushroom Risotto, Estate
Watercress and White Truffle Oil
As the plate was set down the scent of white truffle oil was immediate. Presentation was lovely the watercress set on top of a nice little pile of mushroom studded risotto with a tiny sea around the island of orange colored truffle oil. The risotto was undercooked. The mushrooms were firm and flavorful. The watercress was a very small leafed kind and very very fresh. The dish had an earthy feel to it. Too bad about the risotto. The chardonnay was a good pairing; good fruit and lots of acid.
Note on the Chards – both showed malolactic fermentation which I usually abhor tasting in whites but I found that the balance of alcohol and acidity cut completely through that overripe peach flavor that turns me off and I enjoyed both these wines.
2002 Williams-SelyemPinot Noir Sonoma Coast paired with
Sonoma Coast King Salmon, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Potato Puree and Fennel Pollen Aioli
A tiny piece of somewhere between well and rare salmon on an island of puree with aioli on top and the tiny bacon pieces accompanied by onions. The dish came together well. My salmon was med-rare on one have med on the other. The lady beside us had rare. Jack had med-well and his salmon was about 2 inches by 1 inch! The Pinot was bright young, fruity and pleasant.
2001 Williams-SelyemPinot Noir Rochioli River Block paired with
Roasted Filet of Beef, Fingerling Potatoes, Garden Thyme
Wow. I still remember the beef. I inquired - it came from Fasciola Meats. It was great! Perfectly cooked, great flavor and very tender.
2001 Williams-SelyemZinfandel Forchini Vineyard ‘North Flats’ paired with
Pecorino Toscano, Medjool Dates and DaVero Olive Oil
The cheese and dates were a good pairing. The olive oil didn’t enhance it in any way.
Madrona Manor Profiteroles, Banana Ice Cream and Valhrona Chocolate Sauce
Even I didn’t finish this. The profiteroles were rock hard. This is supposed to be one of their signature dishes. Tonight it was a failure.
You may notice that we do not give out a lot of praise. Having been to so many high-quality restaurants, it's pretty tough to impress us.
Most of our reviews are based on just one visit. We neither have the time nor the money (or often, the inclination) to visit most restaurants multiple times. So, please keep in mind that a single-visit review is a snapshot - the restaurant may be "on it" that day - or not. If the meal has a calamity involved (foreign objects in the food, wine poured on us, etc.) we try not to let it shade the overall review.
We pay for the food and beverages; restaurants never comp us. We try to be discreet about taking photos so that the staff doesn't notice/get an idea we're going to do a review. We rarely take notes in the restaurant.
Like the rest of our website, we update our restaurant review pages based upon subsequent visits.