11 Unique Winter Dining Experiences

By Maura Keller | Photo courtesy Grand Geneva Resort & Spa

There’s nothing quite like settling in at a cozy dining spot during the colder winter months, and the Geneva Lake area has plenty to offer those who are seeking special dining experiences amidst the region’s winter wonderland. The combination of a beautiful winter setting, hearty and delicious cuisine, and even indoor entertainment create plenty of opportunities to enjoy all that the season has to offer.

At Lake Geneva’s Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, this AAA four-diamond resort offers a wide range of outdoor winter activities — from ice skating to snowshoeing to skiing. After taking advantage of these diversions, diners can cuddle up in a horse-drawn sleigh ride and head over to the resort’s dining igloos to enjoy a hot toddy, or go for a full meal at one of Grand Geneva’s three restaurants: Geneva ChopHouse, Ristoranté Brissago and Grand Café. Under the direction of Food & Beverage Director Nelly Buleje and new Executive Chef Dustin Urbanik, Grand Geneva’s restaurants serve up exceptional seasonal flavors and new menu highlights created specifically for the winter palate.

Courtney Nobilio, senior marketing manager at Grand Geneva, recommends the lobster bisque with Maine lobster sherry, tarragon, lobster brodo, sourdough crisp and caviar at Geneva ChopHouse, as well as the prime rib, which comes in nine different cuts to suit every preference. At Ristorante Brissago, a fan-favorite menu item is the Aragosta Tagliatelli, featuring Maine lobster, tomato and saffron sauce and sorrel pesto.

Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan offers igloo dining with panoramic views of Delavan Lake from their Lookout Bar and Eatery. Diners can enjoy seasonal cocktails, chef-made meals and craft beer on tap as part of the experience. Eileen Cole, executive director of sales and marketing, says that the Lakeside Igloo Adventure experience remains one of their most popular dining options in the winter.

Nearby in Williams Bay, Pier 290 also offers igloo dining, as well as a cozy winter dining room setting thanks to inviting fireplaces, spectacular frozen lake views, specialty drinks, a golf simulator and plenty of live music. The winter menu features cuisine that celebrates the season, including rustic ravioli, Atlantic salmon and roasted apple salad. It’s a great place to enjoy a drink or a snack before boarding the Santa Cruise to enjoy festive light displays around the lake on your way to Santa’s Secret Hideaway. (Cruises run the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.)

On Lake Como, a visit to one of Destination Geneva National’s five dining establishments in Lake Geneva offers plenty of seasonal menu options. Visit the Hunt Club Steakhouse, a beloved steakhouse in the historic, 100-year-old Crane Manor with panoramic lake views, or make reservations for the seasonal Ice Princess Brunch during the Ice Castles winter event. Geneva National’s Igloo Experience on the clubhouse veranda offers gorgeous winter views of the resort’s world-class golf course. Or head to The Ridge, where igloos on the patio of the Deck Bar provide charming lake views.

Another local-favorite venue that offers igloo dining is Mars Resort, which features a special igloo-only menu designed as shareable plates. Enjoy specialty appetizers, including yellowfin tuna, shrimp de jonghe and Wagyu beef sliders. As one of the area’s long-standing favorite supper clubs, Mars Resort also boasts an array of cocktails to enjoy during the cold winter months, including the Mars Signature Old Fashioned.

For those looking to combine dining and entertainment this winter, The Fireside Dinner Theatre in Fort Atkinson provides a place for families and groups of friends to gather for a shared experience of top-notch dinner theater. This is a particularly popular option around the holidays, according to Julie Nordeen, marketing manager at The Fireside. “From the first day of our holiday show which is typically early in November, The Fireside is decorated for Christmas,” she says. “As soon as you open the doors and see the festive trees and the beautiful merchandise in the first gift shop, you’re in the Christmas spirit.” This season’s stage version of the Bing Crosby classic “White Christmas” is a premiere for The Fireside. From Jan. 12 through Feb. 19, the venue will host a concert series with top national acts celebrating some of the music world’s most popular performers and bands.

In nearby Delavan, Rosewood also provides a memorable dinner theater experience with cabaret-style music productions, fresh farm-to-table cuisines and a charming shopping village filled with seasonal treasures. This holiday season, Rosewood will feature “Christmas Remembered,” a treasure trove of songs, carols and hymns.

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