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Chalet Suzanne - Lake Wales
Driving south along the U. S. Highway 27 in the Lake Wales area, I noticed a sign at the side of the road advertising Chalet Suzanne. Having nothing better to do and out of curiosity, we decided to investigate.
Leaving Hwy 27, we drove down Chalet Susanne Drive for a mile till we reached the country lane entrance bearing the sign advertising Chalet Suzanne Inn and Restaurant. Following the lane, we wondered if we were about to encounter a similar establishment to one of our favorites, the Cherry Pocket Restaurant, coincidentally also in Lake Wales.
The Cherry Pocket is a charismatic, rustic red neck eaterie serving delicious food in a beautiful location at the side of a lake and features live music and line dancing. Fantastic it is, upmarket it is not. However, as we drove round the final bend and cast our eyes on the objective of our curiosity, we immediately realized that the two restaurants could not have been further apart. The building and surroundings would not have looked out of place in the middle of Disney' s Magic Kingdom.
Nestling in a hundred acres of countryside, the inn celebrates its' 70th birthday this year, has 26 rooms with enchanting names such as Rosewood, Periwinkle, Marigold, Papaya and Peacock to name a few and an airfield if you care to fly in for a meal or overnight stay.
The restaurant is in the old stables and has been renovated to pristine condition while maintaining an olde worlde charm and elegance and has a lovely view overlooking the lake.
We followed a path which took us up onto the restaurant roof. A small seating area gave a beautiful view of the lake and a host of turtles who had come hoping to be fed when they heard our footsteps climbing up the stairs. (I kid you not. ) Next to the restaurant which is split up into several smaller rooms was the Little Swedish Bar, the wine Dungeon for evening tastings and private meetings and reception rooms.
We were given a brief historical resume of Chalet Suzanne and learned that in 1990 it had been added to the U. S. National Register of Historic Places.
The original owners were Carl and Bertha Hinshaw and their daughter Suzanne, together with J. L. Kraft, head of the Kraft Cheese Company who, between them had plans to create a lovely community with golf and other amenities on it. The Great Depression forced Kraft to withdraw and return north and in 1931 Carl Hinshaw developed pneumonia and sadly died. His wife opened the inn and restaurant later that year, calling it Suzanne' s Tavern before renaming it Chalet Suzanne shortly after.
Apart from an a-la-carte menu, they also provide a traditional 5-course dinner, 3-course lunch or breakfast. For a totally original experience it is worth the effort to drive for an hour to the Tavern just to see it, wander around and perhaps feed the turtles but if you are considering eating, it might be advisable to ring ahead and book a table. If you are flying, it will take considerably less than an hour.
We plan to dine there in the not too distant future, so will follow up with another report.
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