Best Restaurants – Europe in the Midwest

We didn’t know what to expect…a vineyard in the snow seemed backwards.  As we found our way off the dark, rural Wisconsin highway to the winding gravel road, the Italianesque Chateau loomed ahead, bathed in spotlights. We were awed by how beautiful the sculptures and ornamental trees looked in the snow…magical!  The big winery doors open to vaulted ceilings, a giant fireplace and walls of wine.  Photo Tip: Note the night shot of the Chateau is lit enough to see the snowflakes and sculpture, but dark enough that the window lights glow.  I used a low ASA of 100 to accomodate a long exposure that accentuates window glow, 1/8 of a second, and a tiny bit of fill flash to light and freeze the snow action.

Chateau St. Croix Winery & Vineyard

The Winemakers welcomed us and we were shuffled over to the big sturdy wood bar to taste an array of wines.  We sipped sparkling champagne with pomegranate juice, red like the holiday caroler’s hats. Wine tasting at the chateau

Dinner followed in the next room which mimics an elegant European castle dining room.  Justin Grecco, Owner and Chef of Grecco’s Restaurant in St. Croix Falls, impressed everyone more and more as the night went on, each amazing course was paired by the winery.
chateau dining room

The lobster bisque, different than I’ve had before.  This soup was not thick and pasty like most, it had a dry wine base, buttery and smooth, with a big lobster taste and giant cuts of actual lobster.   The salmon was one of two entrees. Mmmmmmm, salmon stuffed with a scallop and salmon mousse. This was served with a port wine reduction and saffron risotto.

Either the Chateau St. Croix or Grecco’s Restaurant — both in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, are exceptional escapes for a romantic European experience in rural Midwest.  It’s no wonder Grecco’s Restaurant feels like a little escape to Europe; Justin was inspired to cook during a long stay in Italy.  Also, check out The Chateau St. Croix for their list of culinary & wine experiences.   Grecco’s can cater off-site events and weddings up to 500 people.  The Chateau also welcomes parties and weddings.  They offer a huge permanent outdoor tent in addition to the Chateau.  A beautiful, natural environment different than the usual.

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