Mention to just about anyone in Sonoma County that you are headed to Madrona Manor, and they will likely say: “Ooh, are you going there for dinner? You are in for a treat!” That responses certainly warranted as the restaurant has adorned a Michelin star for the past eleven years.
But I have never been there for dinner.
What I have experienced, on two different occasions now, is Madrona Manor’s elegance as perhaps Sonoma County’s premier inn. The Mansion (the main building) was built on the hill above the Dry Creek Valley in 1881, by John Alexander Paxson, a wealthy businessman from San Francisco. The stately Victorian remained a private residence for precisely a century until it was purchased in 1981 and converted into a country inn and restaurant.
Before my first visit a couple of years ago, I had ridden by the property countless times, as has just about every cyclist who has ever ridden in or around the town of Healdsburg—Madrona Manor sits on the corner of two of the most popular roads for cyclists: Westside Road and West Dry Creek Road.
It is also a perfect spot for exploring some of the best wineries in Sonoma as Healdsburg is the hub for three of the County’s most prestigious appellations: Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, and Alexander Valley.
On my second visit, this past January, I was able to stay a couple of nights, which included at least several day light hours, better for taking pictures.
The room is spacious, but also cozy with its fireplace, clawfoot tub, and antique settee. The two mornings I woke there, it was tempting to just lie wrapped up in the Egyptian linens and wait for my groom to enter the room to ready me for the day, as I imagine Mr. Paxson once did. It was difficult not to feel spoiled, pampered even, as I scanned the tastefully adorned room. It was rather easy, with no T.V. blaring, no kids wailing, to be transported back a hundred years or so, and be tempted to take the day as it came, not stuck to the packed schedule of which my iPhone would soon alert me.
As I mentioned, I did not have dinner at Madrona Manor (it was closed for a week of repose), but if the breakfast is any indication, I need to get to the restaurant at some point. The frittata of spinach, pepper, onion, tomato, and cheese was simply divine; perfectly cooked as the eggs were firm, not even slightly runny, but incredibly moist. Paired with the homemade salsa it was both filling and fresh.
Despite the photo, I am not a coffee drinker so can’t speak to that, usually my wife gives me a detailed rundown of all beverages brewed (I don’t really drink hot liquids—I know, I know), but as she was not with me on this trip, I asked a few of the other guests their opinion of the traditional breakfast beverage. To a person, they raved over the coffee, and I have no reason to believe that they were being dishonest (although if a rather large man interrupted me during my breakfast, I might be tempted to say anything to get him to go away, so…).
So yes, this second visit to Madrona Manor was memorable (daylight tends to help). Certainly hope to get back soon to experience the restaurant, but I will be more disappointed if I am not able to stay in one of the stately rooms and reprise my role of spoiled country gentleman, at least for a few brief moments.