Travel Guide: The Edgewater in Madison, WI | chicago foodie girl


Travel Guide: The Edgewater in Madison, WI

I spent most of my free time during my senior year of college (oh so many years ago) exploring everything that Madison, WI had to offer. I went to a small school about an hour outside of the city and while I got a fantastic education and really loved so many things about the environment, it wasn't exactly the epicenter of culture. Comparatively, Madison had a funky vibe and the diversity I craved - I loved it so much that I thought I might even move there post-college. While I ultimately ended up in Chicago, as it was a better fit personally and professionally, Madison is still one of those places that hold a special place in my heart.

All these years later, I still try to visit Madison at least once a year: fall trips involve hours spent outdoors leisurely perusing every stand at the most amazing farmers market, summer and spring visits focus on exploring all of the newest restaurants and shops, and winter weekend visits are spent decompressing at boutique hotels complete with plenty of roaring fireplaces, stunning lake views, and decadent comfort food options. Recently, at the end of a particularly stressful stretch at work for both of us, Mario and I packed our warmest sweaters and headed up to Madison for one of those long winter weekends that involve no plans other than relaxing; as we discovered during this trip, hands down, The Edgewater is absolutely the best place in the city to do just so. After spending years hotel-hopping, I am 100% a convert to this fantastic spot and honestly cannot see myself choosing to stay anywhere else again!

After spending the most of the afternoon bopping around the downtown area with no major plans other than to nosh our way through the lunch menu at one my favorite Madison restaurants, Mario and I finally checked into The Edgewater to get down to the serious business of relaxing and eating. Before making our way to dinner at The Statehouse, we spent a little time exploring the property (we had to work off that lunch in order to make room for the next meal!) and hanging out on the plaza by the ice rink. While the hotel hosts a variety of events and activities on the plaza throughout the year, I have to say that I can’t imagine it being any prettier than during the winter with the twinkly lights around the ice rink and the sunset over Lake Mendota!

Post-walk and warmup session by the fire, we headed down to The Statehouse, their signature restaurant and one of the five dining options at the hotel. Of course, we had to kick off our meal with the unofficial Wisconsin state cocktail, the Brandy Old Fashioned (my favorite version!). 

Venison Carpaccio: juniper and pink peppercorn loin seared rare and topped with apple-cranberry relish. As a born and raised Midwesterner, I am quite familiar with venison; however, I have to say that it's not usually my favorite, as it tend to be a bit too gamey. This version totally blew me away! It was such a perfect combination of sweet, tart, and meaty. I honestly expected to push the dish over to Mario's side of the table after a bite or two, but we actually ended up fighting over the last few pieces.

Quinoa and Kale Salad with butternut squash, apple, Marcona almonds, dried cherries, shaved sheep's milk cheese, and cider vinaigrette. This was another dish that took me by surprise, as I'm not usually overly impressed with kale salads (I went on a kale binge for a few years and totally burnt out on it), but everything really worked so perfectly together. Mario declared it to be the best salad he'd ever had... we both enjoyed it so much that we even ordered it again as part of our room service dinner the next evening!

Bacon Wrapped Scallops with sweet potato puree and a petite herb salad. While Mario went the traditional steak and potatoes route, I chose the winter-appropriate scallops and sweet potatoes, which ended up being a fantastic decision. As I've mentioned before, anyone who knows me knows it's more likely than not that if I see scallops on a menu, I will order them. Needless to say, I've eaten a lot of scallops in my life and I've gotten to the point in which I am super picky about the quality and preparation. The scallops were beautifully done and the flavors reminded me of what I love about fall/winter vegetables.

Even though we were stuffed, we couldn't leave without sampling the highly recommended Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet. I mean, how can you go wrong with this deliciousness?!

As we discovered the next morning, one of the best parts of waking up at The Edgewater was the phenomenal view of Lake Mendota from our bed! Even though the hotel is within walking distance of the downtown area, the stunning views make it feel like you’re completely removed from the city. To me, this is really what sets it apart from some of the other boutique hotels in the area.

After a leisurely morning in our room (it was so cozy and pretty!), we finally headed back down to The Statehouse for breakfast. We kicked off our meal with this Lobster Benedict, which was absolutely stuffed with buttery lobster meat.

We also tackled the hearty and delicious Breakfast Sandwich with egg, sausage, and grilled tomatoes on a Stella's Cheese Bread bun. If you've never had this local speciality bread with pockets of cheese throughout, you are absolutely missing out!

As our goal for the weekend was to relax (and eat, obviously!), Mario headed up to the room for a post-breakfast nap while I took a quick walk along the lake and then set out to find the coziest spots on the property. After grabbing some coffee, I settled into into one of their comfy chairs with a good book and sunlight streaming down on my face (it was so cozy I almost forgot the temps were plunging to below zero!). Eventually, I made my way back to my favorite fireplace for a little more reading and a lot of people watching. It’s rare than when I go somewhere I just sit back and relax, but you can’t help but do so at the Edgewater. It’s so comfy and chill - and everyone is so friendly!

Our only set plan for the day involved attending a special late afternoon Holiday Tea Service at The Statehouse. As you all know by now, I'm huge fan of tea service and I was so excited to introduce Mario to one of my favorite rituals. Although it was freezing outside, the restaurant was warm and comfy with the same beautiful views of the lake as we had from our room. We even saw a massive bald eagle swoop by and settle into a nearby tree. It really couldn't have been a more perfect winter setting!

Every good celebratory tea service begins with glasses of bubbly!

The tea service included over ten options from Wisconsin-based Rishi Tea, ranging from classic flavors to several wintery favorites. We ended up sampling four of their teas and both agreed the refreshing and light Strawberry Tusli white tea with hints of  strawberries, rosehips, and basil was the clear favorite.

Of course, you can't have afternoon tea service without a tray of assorted sandwiches and treats. Mario's favorite was the House-Smoked Salmon with crème fraiche and asparagus, while I fell hard for the Golden Beet sandwiches with chèvre and tomato jam.

The sweets included a variety of macarons, almond financiers, fruit tartlets, and currant scones with clotted cream (I'm a sucker for anything served with clotted cream!). It was such a wonderful service and I'm so glad Mario got to experience it with me; at the end of our weekend, he proclaimed it to be one of the highlights of the trip!

The next morning we said goodbye to our lovely lake view and ordered room service from The Statehouse before hitting the road. The Smoked Salmon Plate with bagel chips, eggs, onions, tomatoes, and capers was the perfect way to transition back into the real world after such an indulgent weekend.

There are so many things I love about Madison and The Edgewater is most definitely near the top of the list! If you're looking for a hotel that offers a welcoming space, extremely comfortable beds, a full menu of spa services, stunning lake views, and delicious food options, then you absolutely should consider The Edgewater for your next stay: 1001 Wisconsin Place, Madison, WI. 

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