Covered in a serene layer of snow, it’s difficult to imagine The Creamery Restaurant and Inn as a bustling, athletic getaway. But when asked about their year-round business, owner Terry Vajgrt says: “The place has a very outdoorsy vibe in the summer.” He then describes bikers coming in from the Red Cedar State Trail to grab sandwiches at the cafe and Boy Scouts journeying through their woods. He has plans to expand into water activities with kayaks that guests can use to paddle through the lakes.
But with all this activity, visitors and guests are sure to work up an appetite; luckily, farm-fresh fare is close at hand.
Located an hour-and-a-half drive east of the Twin Cities in Downsville, Wisconsin, The Creamery is an easy day trip or weekend getaway with a compelling approach to food, comfortable accommodations and plenty of outdoor activities. Led by Executive Chef Brian Griep, The Creamery is “dedicated to serving seasonal, local, organic produce and meats farmed in a sustainable manner.”
In other words, that buffalo farm five miles down the road from The Creamery…Promise Bison Farm, yes, that’s the one…their bison is offered on the menu. Interested in fish? Herbies Bullfrog Fish Farm, another neighbor of theirs, is happy to provide. Organic chicken? Grass fed beef? All locally sourced as well. And of course there are vegetables that Terry says: “show up at the backdoor still caked in dirt and are served that night for dinner.” They’re fresh, to say the least.
But local, organic ingredients are one thing — the magic of what happens in the kitchen is just as important.
Dinner features unapologetic flavor bombs like a Bison Burger with blue cheese, caramelized onions and bacon on honey brioche or Pan Seared Pork Tenderloin with white rice, julienne carrot, pineapple and cilantro ginger ponzu, and Organic Grass Fed Beef Flat Iron Steak with fresh herbs and horseradish creme fraiche. The pork stands out; ultra tender and flavorful, it’s perfectly complemented by the well-balanced citrusy-sweet taste of the ponzu.
Desserts are created on-site and include the Honey and Pine Nut Tart, Champagne and Pink Grapefruit Sorbet, a light and fresh treat, and a Dark Chocolate Cake with chocolate frosting (aka: pure heaven).
After such a decadent dinner, walking just upstairs or to the next building for the night is a welcome idea. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, if out of date, and have a serene view into the Wisconsin woods that can be enjoyed with your morning coffee and freshly baked pastries (from the adjoining Brickhouse Bakery) delivered to your door.
After a morning bike ride in the summer or a snowshoe or cross country ski outing in the winter, be sure to head down to brunch. Whether it’s hearty bison chili, wild mushroom and leek quiche or whole-grain sourdough and granola pancakes, you can’t go wrong with your order. A best bet, however, is to start with a bloody mary (they’ll make it good and spicy for you) with a local Rush River Amber Ale chaser and follow it up with their fried egg sandwich on honey brioche with arugula, bacon and herb ailoi. It’s sure to please.