Wassail! This old English word was a greeting or salutation on festive occasions such as the holidays and Christmas Eve. It was also a toast, wishing good health and prosperity to a friend or neighbor. “Wassailing” usually involved spirits: spiced ale carried in a “Wassail Bowl,” (especially spiced ale), singing carols and making merry.
At Old Rittenhouse Inn, the word takes on a life of its own: Wassail Holiday Dinner Concerts, held each year in December, are 3-Course Luncheons or 5-Course Dinners paired with a concert of holiday music performed by the Rittenhouse Singers, a professional vocal choir backed by local musicians and directed by Innkeeper, Jerry Phillips.
The Inn is fully decorated for the season: her pillars are wrapped in ribbons, evergreen boughs and twinkling lights. A massive Christmas tree greets visitors in the front hall, and the holiday decorations continue inside the dining room, which seats up to 64 concert-goers.
The meals are described verbally by the maitre ‘d, and include tasty soups and salads, entrée favorites like Roast Pork Loin with Apple Cider Glaze or Champagne Chicken, and desserts like decadent Turtle Sundaes, fresh baked pies, and the classic Figgy Pudding with Crème Anglaise (laced with bourbon). There’s also the famous Rittenhouse Wassail Punch, made with Cider and cranberry juice, bourbon and spices.
Leading the show is the exuberant Jerry Phillips, who conducts his choir with seemingly limitless energy, often keeping time on tambourine, wood blocks, or bells as the singers perform throughout the Inn’s dining room and hallways.
Asked where he finds the energy, Jerry claims it comes from the audience. “They give us so much and we connect with them as well. For me, it’s a total rush. It usually takes me a week or so to come back to Earth afterwards. The singers have a lot of fun performing too. For many, it makes the holiday season. It wouldn’t be Christmas without Wassail.”
Next time: How it All Started: the History of Wassail!
Don’t miss this summer’s premier event, Concerts by the Lake, a free concert series in Memorial Park hosted by the Bayfield Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau. Concerts run from July 10 to August 28 on Tuesdays, 7-9pm.
Whether you like bluegrass, rock and roll, pop or indie music, Concerts by the Lake features local talents of every genre, offering a relaxing and enjoyable evening for every musical taste. Space is limited, so get to Memorial Park early with a blanket or a few lawn chairs, set up camp, and enjoy the music. After the show, swing by the Bayfield Inn’s rooftop bar for drinks overlooking Lake Superior, or take the family for ice cream at the Candy Shoppe in downtown Bayfield.
Concerts by the Lake Schedule:
July 10: Sean Okamoto (Americana)
July 17: Foreign Object (Alternative/Power Pop)
July 24: Hoff Stevens (Doo-Wop/Punk/Folk)
July 31: Yazmin and Beat Zero, featuring Bruce Bowers (Latin, Indie)
August 7: Alpha City (Alternative/Rock/Dance)
August 14: Andy Noyes and Stevie Matier (Acoustic/Groove)
August 21: Orienta Carwash (Honky Tonk/Country)
August 28: Liz Woodworth Trio (Indie/Power Pop/70s Gold)
For more information, call the Bayfield Chamber at 800-447-4094 or visit www.bayfield.org.
*In case of rain, concerts will be held at the Madeline Island Ferry Terminal.
Come celebrate the 50th Annual Festival of Arts on the weekend of July 28th and July 29th in Bayfield, Wisconsin. The festival is held at Memorial Park in downtown Bayfield and hosts over 90 Midwestern artists and a variety of events, including a live art action, fine art vendors, and local gallery tours and demonstrations.
Whether you’re an art aficionado or a newcomer to the artistic scene, the Festival of Arts is a unique and exciting experience for all. Along with selections of pottery, painting, jewelry, sculpture, glass works, wood carvings, and photography, the Festival of Arts features live music performances by festival artists and local talents, as well as festival food vendors. Enjoy the art, the music, or a snack by the lakefront. The Festival of Arts has something for everyone.
Festival of Arts Outline of Events:
Chequamegon Bay Arts Council‘s (CBAC) Live Auction: Friday, July 27th, 5:30pm to 8:30pm at the Bayfield Lakeside Pavilion
Festival of Arts: Saturday, July 28th, 10:00am to 5:00pm and Sunday, July 29th, 10:00am to 4:00pm at the Memorial Park in downtown Bayfield
Festival of Arts Gallery Tour: Saturday and Sunday at various gallery locations. Contact individual galleries for more information. Participating Galleries: DONALEE DESIGNS Silversmith, Eckels Pottery and Fine Craft Gallery, Orchard’s Edge Quilt Shop, Bates Art Barn, Water Music Jewelry & Art, Stone’s Throw, Kerr Studio & Gallery, Oulu Glass, Bayfield Inn Art Gallery, Washburn Cultural Center, Native Spirit Gifts, and Bayfield Artists’ Guild.
Come join us for a fantastic weekend of arts, music, and local culture! All events are free and open to the public.
We had such fun at our spring Red Wine Weekend on April 13-14, 2012. These are always fun events for us because the wine hosts we work with, Dennis Kohl and Gary Binter, bring so much knowledge and passion as they share their accumulated experience. This is a way to learn a great deal about wine in a short period, and have lots of fun!
The weekends always begin with a Friday night tasting party complete with appetizer buffet. This weekend, the theme was “Five Different Grape Varieties from Five Different Countries.” (Try saying that 3 times fast, after tasting five wines!) We tasted Sherwood Pinot Noir (Austrailia), Achaia Claus Domestica Red (Greece), Wollersheim Domain Du Sac (Wisconsin), Rio Perdido Malbec (Argentina) and Cepa-21 Hito (Spain). The appetizer buffet featured Flank Steak with Olive Relish, Crab Stuffed Mushrooms, Artisan Cheese & Sausage Platter, Bleu Cheese Torta with Red Wine and Roasted Walnuts, Brownies and Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.
The grand finale to each Red Wine Weekend at Old Rittenhouse Inn’s Landmark Restaurant is the Six-Course Wine Dinner. This time, it was “Life is a Cabernet,” which pretty much speaks for itself, I think.
For the first course, we paired Santa Julia, an Argentinian (Organic) Cab, with a Grilled Scallop and Mushroom appetizer with arugula and lemon vinaigrette.
The second course was a classic Minestrone soup, a specialty of our sous chef. This richly flavored broth is filled with fresh vegetables and slivers of pasta and was a great match for the N X NW, King Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State.
The third course was an arugula and spinach salad with dried cherries, toasted walnuts, goat cheese, and red wine vinaigrette. The spicy arugula was nicely paired with the Ferrari Carano, Sonoma cab.
Fourth course, a palate refresher! Wild blueberry port sorbet played a sweet blue note that cleared the stage for the main act.
The fifth course was a choice between savory chicken or spring lamb. The Saltimbocca di Pallo is an old Roman specialty that starts with sliced breast of hen sprinkled with sage and topped with sliced prosciutto, then sautéed in butter and braised in white wine. It’s served with a puttanesca-seasoned Rosti potato cake and lemon wine pan reduction sauce. The BR Cohn, Silver Label Sonoma cab was a good foil for a very flavorful dish!
The second entree choice was prime rack of spring lamb brushed with olive oil and crusted with herbs and Porcini mushrooms, then char-grilled to perfection and served with sweet potato gnocci and red wine demi glaçe. We served that with another favorite Cabernet Sauvignon, Buehler from Napa Valley.
For the sixth course, we offered a multi layer chocolate creme torte, presented on a chocolate cherry macaroon cookie with whipped cream and dried cherry compote. The dried cherries and chocolate were delightful with the scrumptious Layer Cake Cab from California.
So, if you are a fan of red wines, and Cabernet Sauvignons in particular, I believe you would have found this weekend to be a lot of fun. I know we did!
Ah, winter. A time to stretch out and relax, and enjoy all there is to do here during the season: skiing, skating, dogsledding, ice-fishing, hiking…. or just curl up with a book! The options are endless once you settle into the laid-back vibe that is Bayfield in winter time.
Here at the Inn, we’re also using this time to catch up on some maintenance of our lovely buildings, and dreaming up more improvements! We recently replaced the tile in several of our bathrooms and whirlpool surrounds, and are very happy with the results. We’re also finding creative ways to add elegant shelf space in our bathrooms, aided by our on-staff woodworking wizard, Don German. For those who have noticed our wonderful new sign that was installed here at the Rittenhouse Inn in summer 2011, that was Don’s work!
We’re also using this time to prepare for our upcoming Bayfield, WI events: a Red Wine Tasting on Feb 3-4, and Valentines Dining and Packages from February 10-14. After Valentines Day, we look forward to Book Across the Bay on February 18th, The American Birkebiener xc ski race on February 25, and the Bayfield Winter Carnival on March 2-4. There are so many fun reasons to come to Bayfield this time of year, we hope you’ll join us!
Of course we are offering great winter rates and lodging specials. Give us a call at 715-779-5111 and plan your winter getaway in Bayfield.
Our little Innkeeping family here at the Rittenhouse Inn is very excited for Christmas Eve this year. We have given most of the staff the weekend off to be with friends and family, so our family is cooking and serving dinner this Saturday. For this special meal, we’ll prepare favorite dishes from our 35 years. In a nod to our long tradition of verbally recited menus, we decided to describe the meal in this blog entry much the way we would describe it at your table, so here goes:
We’ll start with a few delicious soups to choose from. First is Chicken Amandine, a sweet and rich cream and chicken stock with tender cubes of chicken breast, steamed wild rice, slivered almonds and a splash of Amaretto. The other choice is a long-time favorite, the Mushroom Burgundy. Here we begin with a rich beef and veal stock, adding fresh herbs, button and shiitake mushrooms, and burgundy wine. It is a clear soup served piping hot and rich with flavor.
For the salad course, the first choice is a spicy mixed greens salad lightly seasoned and tossed with balsamic vinaigrette and dressed with goat cheese, slivered almonds, and dried cranberries. The other choice is a classic spinach salad with warm bacon vinaigrette, hard boiled egg, purple onion, and crumbled bacon.
The sorbet course is still up in the air as of this writing, but we are leaning toward a fresh pomegranite sorbet with champagne float.
The entrée course features five selections to choose from. First, our Roast Pork Loin with Apple Cider Glaze is slow roasted till fork tender, and is one of our long-time favorites. Poulet au Fromage is another: a white breast of hen stuffed with a trio of artisan cheeses, cream cheese, fresh herbs, and spinach. We also offer one of owner Jerry Phillips’ specialties: tender braised short ribs with a red wine and herb pan reduction, roast garlic mashers, gingered cranberries, and squash soufflé. From Lake Superior, we offer our lake trout and whitefish braids, dusted with mild cajun reddening, baked, and served with lemon vinaigrete and savory wild rice. Finally, we offer our classic Steak Bercy, a pan seared filet mignon with a sauce of garlic, shallots, veal demi glacé and red wine reduction.
Desserts include our inimitable sundaes: Hot Fudge, Rum, and Turtle. We’re also baking fresh Cherry pies and Black Bottom Bourbon pies, as well as our molten chocolate truffle cake.
Top all that off with your favorite wines and spirits, and you have a Christmas Eve Dinner to remember at Rittenhouse Inn’s Landmark Restaurant.
Your hosts for the evening are the Phillips family. Jerry will act as head chef for the evening, with his son Mark serving as sous chef. The meal will be served by Julie and Wendy, and founder and co-owner Mary will also be on hand to ensure that everything comes out just right.
If you are in the Bayfield/Washburn/Ashland Wisconsin area over the holidays, we hope you’ll consider making reservations. Seating is from 5-7:30pm on Saturday, December 24. Cost is $55/person plus beverages, tax and gratuity.
We are so pleased to offer our favorite recipes from the Rittenhouse Inn and Landmark restaurant, and we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
This is surely one of our most favorite times of year… Wedding Season in Bayfield, Wisconsin! Bayfield is fast becoming known as a Wisconsin Wedding Destination, and for good reason: the beauty of Bayfield and Lake Superior offer numerous locations for your ceremony and reception. The Rittenhouse inn and our historic properties are ideal Bayfield wedding venues offering both indoor and outdoor options.
Our on-site Wedding Planner and Events Director, Wendy Phillips, works closely with couples to help bring their dream wedding to life. Wendy can arrange for a wide array of wedding services including Officiants, Menu Planning, Wine and Bar Service, Professional Event Staffing, Florists, Musicians, Wedding Cakes and Tortes, Hairdressers and Make-Up Artists, Massage and Spa Treatments, Tent Canopy Rental, Banquet Rental Items, Limosine Services or Horse-drawn Carriage, and even Babysitting!
Bayfield wedding receptions at the Rittenhouse Inn or Chateau Boutin are as unique as the couples who are married here. Our on-site wedding planner and helpful staff guide you thorough the planning process to create an event that reflects your individual taste and style. If you can dream it, we’ll do our best to make it a reality. And when it comes to fine dining and catering, no-one in the area can top Rittenhouse Inn’s Landmark Restaurant.
A Bayfield wedding reception at Le Chateau Boutin offers a wealth of options. Butlered appetizers and cocktails on the veranda… or a tapas buffet set-up in the home’s original dining room make a lovely start to your event.
Our Signature Five-Course Gourmet Dinner is an ever-popular choice for wedding receptions. This meal, for which the Inn is most noted, allows guests to select a soup, salad, tart fruit sorbet, entrée with side dishes, and dessert.
Other options for your Rittenhouse reception may include a Two-Course Petite Dinner offering your choice of soup or salad, and an entrée; a Three-Course Victorian Luncheon consisting of a salad, choice of entrées, and dessert; or even an up-scale Champagne Brunch served with festive mimosas!
For wedding parties larger than 35 people, a tent canopy is suggested for set-up on the croquet lawn where everyone can take in the panoramic view of Lake Superior. Whether you choose a sit-down or banquet-style meal, we offer a large selection of unique menu items for your reception. Our on-site wedding planner will help you customize a meal that fits your dreams, and your budget.
Over the past 35 years, Innkeeper (and non-denominational minister) Jerry Phillips has married literally hundreds of happy couples. We are always grateful to see these couples return, sometimes many years later, to celebrate their special day.
As Wendy and I begin our seventh year as Innkeepers, we are excited to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Old Rittenhouse Inn and Landmark Restaurant. As a child, I can remember the “big move” from Madison to Bayfield (dad let me ride in the U-Haul with him) and how excited I was to live in our “northern castle.” That sense of excitement is something I still feel every day when I look at this big old red Victorian.
When I think of my parents, Jerry and Mary, leaving good jobs in their chosen fields to open a restaurant and Bed and Breakfast in the tiny town of Bayfield (which was still a ghost town in those days), I have to wonder what they were thinking. They had no money, no experience in the hospitality business, and a huge old building with all its required upkeep and astronomical fuel bills. It’s a wonder they made it at all, and yet their tenacity, and their unwavering vision of a new kind of hospitality, led them to lasting success. The early coverage they received in magazines such as Gourmet, Midwest Living, Minnesota Monthly, and Wisconsin Trails helped put struggling Bayfield back on the map as a tourist destination. As the Inn’s fortunes rose, so did Bayfield’s.
Mark and Jerry Phillips on the floor in 1991
My first job here at the Inn was stemming strawberries on the front porch with my grandma. I probably ate half as many as I stemmed, as my red-stained face would’ve easily attested. Over the years I worked in the Kitchen, Wait Staff, Front Desk, Maintenance, Marketing/PR, and now as Managing Innkeeper. Wendy followed a similar trajectory, starting in Housekeeping and working her way to the top of the Wait Staff, leading the Front Desk, serving as Events Director and now Managing Innkeeper. Combined with my parents, and my dear aunt Julie, our family has well over a hundred years of innkeeping experience here at Old Rittenhouse Inn.
As we enter our 35th season, we thank all the incredible guests who have made this possible over the years. We also thank our great staff members, past and present. They act as an extension of ourselves, and our vision of hospitality, and we could not do this without them.
There have been many stars on our staff, but none shines brighter than my mother, Mary Phillips’s. The Rittenhouse Inn was her baby from the start, and she put every ounce of her self into creating and growing the business. For 18 years, she cooked every single meal served in our dining rooms. She knew what was going out there better than our very fine Wait Staff did, and she ruled that kitchen with an iron fist and a velvet glove. Everyone loved, respected, and confided in her. She was a great leader, and an even better listener. Though her days as a chef ended with her stroke in the early 90s, she remains a force at the Rittenhouse Inn, and these days, when something is not to her liking, we can count on her letting us know all about it in short order!
When you stay here, and when you dine with us, you are joining in something special: a tradition of warmth and hospitality that extends back to 1976. This is not a cookie cutter hotel or a quaint B&B. No two rooms are alike, and we feel that each is magnificent in it’s own way. We put great emphasis on using local products when possible. We make great efforts to be stewards of the environment, and we truly care what you, our guests, have to say. Most importantly, we are here for one reason: to serve.
Thank you for being part of our history. We look forward to your next visit.
This Sunday, Rittenhouse Inn’s Landmark Restaurant is serving a delicious 3-course Mother’s Day Brunch. The Rittenhouse is well known for it’s elaborate multi-course meals, and brunch is no exception!
The first course includes a choice of a mixed greens salad tossed with dried cranberries, goat cheese, shaved dark chocolate, and a balsamic tarragon vinaigrette or warm fruit salad poached in Chardonnay with mint whipped cream. You’ll also enjoy our fresh muffins and croissants with housemade preserves.
The entrée choices include: French Toast: thick sliced cranberry wild rice bread dipped in a cinnamon and vanilla Infused batter grilled to golden brown and served with thick sliced bacon and WI maple syrup; Eggs Benedict with salmon lox, poached egg, and herbed hollandaise on a toasted baguette; Rittenhouse Quiche with bacon, roast potatoes, asparagus, and red pepper coulis; Double-smoked 6th Street Market Ham served with asparagus and artisan cheese macaroni; Beef Tenderloin Tips in a Burgundy wine sauce with spring peas and pearl onions served over a homemade herbed biscuit; Wild caught Lake Superior Trout poached in a classic court boullion and served with dill pesto sauce, wild rice pilaf, and a small arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette.
Your server will recite the Mother’s Day desserts, which include Classic Hot Fudge, Buttered Rum or Turtle Sundae; Chocolate Cake with molten Truffle center and Raspberry sauce; Bread Pudding; Fresh Vanilla Panna Cotta.
Cost is $22.50/person plus tax and gratuity. Space is limited! Please call 715-779-5111 to reserve Brunch at Rittenhouse Inn’s Landmark Restaurant.
Celebrate the New Year in style! Romantic packages include 6-course candlelight dinner for two, breakfast, and champagne & sweets delivered to your room. Ask about staying a 3rd night for 1/2 price!
New Years Eve Dinner by Candlelight
Chef Steve creates a New Years dining experience you’ll remember for years. Six artfully-prepared courses arrive completewith a complimentary glass of champagne for just $75/person.Open to the Public from 5-10pm. Reservations recommended. Call: 888.611.4667