Madrona Manor was an institution in Healdsburg, known both for its charming Victorian architecture as well as its fine-dining restaurant, which received a Michelin star for 13 years running. The hotel and restaurant were sold to new owners in March 2021, and now, led by designer Jay Jeffers, the team announced they plan to give the historic property a more modern look and reopen it as the Madrona in spring 2022.
By that point, the restaurant will have been dark for two years; it was bumped off the Michelin guide update over the summer. But wine country locals and visitors alike will be relieved to hear that longtime chef Jesse Mallgren is still in the kitchen, as the restaurant reopens with a bold and modern dining room, and debuts a much more casual all-day menu.
The Madrona will open in spring 2022, and wine country revelers should expect some major renovations to the interior, archiving the traditional chandeliers and white tablecloths. Jay Jeffers is an interior designer with bon vivant style, and for the redesign, he says he was inspired by the Aesthetic Movement of the late 19th century, which celebrated beauty for beauty’s sake and also pulled in nature with birds, insects, and leaves, which could potentially offer some interesting motifs for wine country. Shared for the first time, early renderings show streamlined modern banquets and over-the-top light fixtures, below.
Situated on eight acres, the Madrona has always boasted beautiful outdoor dining options. There are several different spaces: A full menu will be served to the dining room and the Palm Terrace overlooking the gardens, while drinks and snacks are available on the wrap-around front porch, as well as the Front Parlor and Hannah’s Bar lounge areas.
With the recent retirement of the head gardener, chef Jesse Mallgren believes he is now the longest-standing employee of the Madrona and a fixture in this kitchen for 22 years. He’s literally put down roots here, cooking from the three-quarter-acre garden, often showcased on tours. During the pandemic, the chef did consider moving on, but during negotiations, he says he realized that “the new owners great. They wanted to reinvigorate the dining room, and their ideas were exactly what I had hoped would happen to the property.” Not a reopening, but really a whole new opening, the chef says he’s excited to dig into the new menu.
Previously, Madrona Manor served a prix-fixe dinner menu five nights a week, which varied from six to nine courses for about $100, not outrageous by wine country standards, but a leisurely meal often reserved for special occasions. In contrast, now the Madrona is switching to a more casual, a la carte, all-day menu available seven days a week, with brunch on the weekends. Mallgren is keeping the onion velouté with slow-cooked eggs, parmesan broth, and croutons, which he describes as a lighter French onion soup — he’s tried to take it off the menu before, but the soup fans “revolted.” He’s excited to add a new chicken paillard inspired by his daughter’s favorite Thai flavors, so rich with brown butter, but punched up with lime juice, fish sauce, Thai chiles, and herb salad.
Once relegated to the lounge, there’s now a dry-aged burger in the dining room. He’s still pulling from the garden, the menu will change with the seasons, but overall, expect “the same flavors, just not so petite or delicate,” Mallgren says. “Dishes are more shareable. There’s more freedom.”