We went to the holiday party last night for David’s office. In recent years, it’s been an enjoyable enough affair, especially after they stopped booking the DJ nobody liked… but the experience we had was somewhat beyond our wildest expectations of a nice evening.
Meson Sabika was the setting, a large mansion in Naperville, which is one of the few Chicago suburbs with a sense of its own history. First settled in 1811, it’s set in gently rolling country, with a vibrant and architecturally appealing downtown, with public space and art everywhere. We drove down after work, and I was in my typically grumpy “I HATE GETTING DRESSED UP” frame of mind on the way. All that changed as soon as we walked in the door.
The Willoway Mansion was built in 1847 and sits on a pristine four-acre estate near downtown Naperville. After a meticulous renovation that brought back the mansionâ€™s original charm as well as added modern conveniences to the restaurant, Meson Sabika opened itâ€™s doors in 1990.
It goes without question, that the restaurant offers an unmatched dining experience. Guests can dine indoors and enjoy the grace and charm reminiscent of a European Villa or can choose to sit outdoors on the terrace while enjoying the ultimate alfresco experience underneath 150-year-old oak trees which cover the estate.
Guests will find that each item on the menu offers a taste of Spain. Whether itâ€™s enjoying hot and cold tapas, sangria, an entrÃ©e or a vintage wine â€“ thereâ€™s always a pleasant combination of exceptional food, friendly service, and unique atmosphere where family and friendship can live life in celebration.
The entrance is the original foyer of the mansion, with a sense of rooms and people and festive celebration taking place in rooms all over the house. The hall was gorgeously decorated, with a beautiful old wooden staircase leading to the second floor. We checked in with the staff and they took our coats away. We were ushered through lace curtains separating the former front parlor from the hall, where familar faces told us we’d found the right room. We were a few minutes late, and the drinks service had just started. Handsome waiters moved smoothly through the room, distributing glasses of wine and cocktails (open bar). It was a lovely old room, with 4 long dining tables set for dinner, in two rows with a central aisle. We filled it, with each department tending to keep to itself. So at our table, we were the Dev people, and the Sales people (always a boisterous bunch) were the next table down.
The first appetizers came out, a couple of variations on potato salad; each table got two big platters to pass down each side, serving ourselves family-style. The hot appetizers, same drill.
And then a guitarist began to play, another set of lace curtains separating the parlor from the big bar area were opened, and the flamenco dancer began to stamp out her passionate rhythms. The old wood floor was perfect for her snapping, gunshot-loud steps.
It was an extra-special evening, with a wonderful holiday mood set by the beautiful old home, the decor, and the family-style seating. I’d definitely like to return.
The food was amazing – also, they had Spanish beers and wines. My husband David’s co-conspirator had been to Spain and was really pleased to find Spanish beer on the bar list. It seemed like conversation flowed more easily at this party than at previous years’ shindigs; something about the antique-y, homelike setting put us all at ease. Even those of us spouses (or spices) who only see these people once a year.
David even won a gift card, well done. If you check the link, you’ll see the holiday menu choices for groups. We had the third option, which was plenty of food (although rather heavy on the dairy, and light on vegan choices).
I was stupid not to bring my iPhone. I thought I would be tempted to play with it “when I got bored.” That would not have been the case, and I could have gotten some decent shots of the hall and the dining room.
David took the picture of the dancer. The lighting was not optimal but this pose came out pretty well.
Ginny, from what you said about your Flamenco experience at the Meson Sabika, something tells me you’ll enjoy a flamenco DVD called Petenera â€“ a Flamenco Drama in Music and Dance. You can check it out at its site http://musicfilmfactor.com. Hope you enjoy it, it makes a wonderful gift too. Happy holidays, Michael.