A FESTIVE FEAST

A Festive Feast

Dine in Splendor at The Statehouse
By Rachel Werner

Merriment and sustenance are awash in elegance at The Statehouse. Located in the iconic, recently renovated Edgewater Hotel, the restaurant’s crisp linens, panoramic lake views and spacious seating foreshadow the regal spread soon to grace the table. And whether dining morning, noon or night, the menu’s seafood and steaks are delivered with a bountiful flourish.

Executive Chef Joe Heppe’s culinary game plan makes a memorable impression.

“I’ve been cooking with a Midwestern focus for eight years and the only way to do that in a fresh way is to incorporate flavors from outside of the region that accentuate local ingredients without stripping away the native tastes that you recognize as home,” he explains. “It’s important to revamp Wisconsin fare without being hokey.”

One traditional component Heppe has held fast to—that many fine-dining establishments ignore—is generous portion sizes. Each plated course is built out, and up, with sustainably sourced seafood, pork or beef accompanied by colorful veggies and greens, providing a 3D dining experience. And Heppe’s holiday menus are poised to please appetites at intimate gatherings and jubilant banquets alike.

Celebratory dining kicks off simply with an arugula salad bedecked with shaved almonds, Peruvian Farms prosciutto and Hook’s blue cheese nicely united under the seductive tang of the red wine vinaigrette. Follow up with a nibble of the lobster nuage— lightly stacked seafood garnished with braised monkfish, trumpet mushrooms and fennel—and be prepared to stifle the sentiment the meal couldn’t possibly get any better.

Because it will if a pan-seared steak lightly coated in bone marrow butter, dill and parsley is selected as the main course and then paired with a side of cauliflower gratin, topped with blackened breadcrumbs and pine nuts. The texture combination alone is enough to dazzle the mind—and tongue.

Round out the meal by enjoying dessert in liquid form. Seasonal cocktails include the Fig Tart, with surprising hints of bright lime layered over Plantation Rum; the Caribbean Dream, an all-spiced rendition of an Old Fashioned; and the honey syrup doused, scotchbased Fireside keep the festivities rolling a little longer. This trio of infusions also make jovial brunch buddies, lending extra reasons to pull up a chair for Heppe’s morning-after-the-holiday feast.

“We all seem to crave rich food in winter,” Heppe says. “And people here can understand quality.” In response, his breakfast and brunch menus are hearty and expansive, from Stella Bakery’s cinnamon bread converted into rich French toast, vegan banana bread, apple wood smoked bacon and seafood crêpes. The weekend brunch buffet’s massive platters of lox, chilled prawns and smoked salmon are a slam-dunk for adult guests while the made-to-order Belgian waffle and omelet bars are sure-pleasers for younger appetites.

The familiarity of family and tradition ultimately trumps trend at The Statehouse. “In the end, we have to have substance,” says Heppe. “The goal is to hit the right notes, make it approachable and still be creative.” A good resolution for the new year.
The Edgewater, Madison.
The Edgewater serves holiday brunch Dec. 25 and hosts a New Year’s Eve festival Dec.  31. theedgewater.com.

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