Madrona Manor

Historic Healdsburg bed and breakfast is one of the county's best bets for a luxe dinner

Madrona Manor, the demure Victorian bed and breakfast tucked among the vineyards of Westside Road, has stars in its eyes. And Michelin is written all over them.

As Sonoma County’s most critically-acclaimed restaurant, Cyrus, prepares to serve its last meal in October, Madrona’s executive chef Jesse Mallgren (who has won a single star since 2008) is bringing together a culinary all-star team  that includes a new pastry chef, food and beverage manager and mixologist, in addition to his own proven talents in modernist Wine Country cuisine.

Luxe Libations for Less: You don’t often get Prada for a Payless price, but top shelf artisan cocktails for $11? New mixologist Pam Bushling’s a brainy bartender with a science degree and a passion for small producer/importers like Petaluma’s Tempus Fugit who make a coveted violet liqueur. Drinks include the Lola, a sexier margarita with watermelon, tequila, mezcal, lime and Hawaiian lava salt rim; a herbaceous basil-infused gimlet and the Casagrande, Makers Mark with ginger-infused syrup, estate made limoncello and Bundaberg ginger beer.  And we’re just saying, she’s got a way with hard-slapping those herbs.

Dessert Accompli: The Manor’s liquid nitrogen ice cream cart is nifty, but a one-time wonder. New pastry chef Emmanuel “Manny” Fimbrez is a 28-year-old confectionary wunderkind from SF’s tony Saison. Like Mallgren, he loves deconstructed dishes that mix whimsy, texture, temperature and flavors in surprising ways. Unfettered by a dessert menu (his are included in the tasting menu), he isn’t shackled to brownie sundaes and lava cakes, instead offering a lacquered brioche beehive filled with sweetened sheep’s milk cheese, honey and topped with shattered “milk glass”. Sound complicated? It is. And that’s the point. You can eat Oreo’s and pudding pops at home. We loved his frozen “cookie milk”, rice-infused ice cream and bouche de noelish “Chocolate”. See pix below…

Lounge Menu: The restaurant’s tasting menu is still a steal by most upscale Wine Country restaurant standards, but the a la carte lounge menu features many of the dining room’s dishes including Suzuki Crudo with local uni, fresh wasabi and bean flowers ($13), basil steamed lobster ($17), seared Japanese mackerel ($12) or grilled dry aged beef with mung bean risotto and fennel pollen ($24), along with cheese courses and desserts ($12) available on their picturesque porch or small interior lounge. Manage your expectations: This isn’t an all-you-can-eat buffet, but little nibbles of precise, carefully crafted dishes from Mallgren’s kitchen. 

Stuff the Stuffy: The fresh, young team at Madrona are decidedly unstuffy, though they can certainly button it up for more starched clientele. They’re quick to point out, however, there’s no dress code (we’re comfortable if you’re comfortable is their motto), diners are invited to walk around the kitchen gardens and sprawling landscape, and Mallgren has even left a space on the menu described as “previously occupied by a foie gras dish”.  You’re welcome to interpret it however you’d like. Five courses too much fun? The bed and breakfast has 22 well-appointed rooms should you need a place to crash after your four-hour meal.

– The Garden: Nearly every multi-starred chef has their own culinary garden, and Mallgren has one of the prettiest we’ve seen. Estate-grown produce including pears, herbs, berries, tomatoes and citrus make up about 20 percent of the total menu.

Want to check it out? Madrona Manor, 1001 Westside Rd., Healdsburg, (707) 433-4231.

One note: Keep in mind this isn’t a bar, but a small interior lounge and outdoor patio seats at a bed and breakfast, so it’s not the place for your bachelorette party. More like a pre-dinner cocktail with your sweetie. The inn is sometimes booked by large parties, and therefore closed to the public, so call ahead to make sure they’re open.



5 thoughts on “Madrona Manor

  1. I just wanted to say. The bread and butter were the best part of our meal and the man who brought the bread and butter was the only sign of life in this place. Our drinks came out just after we had pushed away our rubbery lobster and off-tasting uni.
    We both love food and this was nothing like we expected. the “bar” is more like a podium. Think of your grandmother’s memorial, except the room was empty on a Friday night… with granola on your lobster.
    Our server could not be less interested in us.

  2. AMAZING FOOD – wonderful atmosphere – attentive staff – overall a perfect meal. A perfect way to celebrate something special. Would 100 % recommend Madrona Manor !

  3. I wish the MAJORITY of people, in their own county, could afford to eat at such establishments.

  4. We experienced Pam’s glorious cocktails in June and loved her so much we booked Madrona Mannor for a private party in July. She is one of the best mixologists we have ever encountered and just an all around great person. If your wondering what to do on a given evening, head up to the manor to meet her and have one of her amazing concoctions…don’t forget to ask her about Ethel 🙂

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