Chalet Suzanne - Orlando / Florida Guide
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Another item on our ‘to do’ list was Chalet Suzanne and we finally got the chance to fit it into a hectic schedule in September 2006. It is as quaint and a pretty as it sounds and at just less than an hour from the Orlando area it is not too taxing a drive. It even boasts it’s own airstrip for the John Travoltas amongst us who boast our own plane.
The Chalet is situated in its own pretty grounds near a lake just off the 27 south and is well signposted. You cannot miss the road as the Eagle Ridge Mall is situated on the road you turn into which is Chalet Suzanne Drive. The mall is just great to visit for your after lunch stroll.
The day we visited was unbelievably blistering hot-about 98degrees-so with young grandson in tow –we couldn’t stay out in the sun too long but on a cooler day you can have more time and energy to explore the grounds and nearby lake.
The history of the chalet is quite fascinating. Carl and Bertha Hinshaw had made plans to develop their land into a golfing community but when Carl aged only 47 passed away from pneumonia Bertha was left with her children Suzanne and Carl junior to make of it what she could. She started a guest house which attracted visitors from all over. After a particularly badf ire in which several rooms were damaged she had to set to and rebuild it as it more or less known today.
It now has 5 dining rooms and 30 bedrooms and is a particular favourite of wedding parties. It also boasts a gift shop, a Spa, a ceramic shop and a soup cannery.
I had been expecting exorbitant prices (I don’t know why) but at just over $30 for a lunch I thought that was quite reasonable and quite delicious if you wanted something a bit special
The dining room we were in was overlooking the lake and the room was very atmospheric with lots of low lighting , dark wood and pretty china. Each course was beautifully presented. The Chalet is particularly famous for it’s Romaine soup but what most sticks in my memory was the hot grapefruit starter. I’d never see grapefruit used in that way before-and it was both refreshing and delicious. I presume it was just grapefruit halved and sprinkled with sugar and placed under a grill. The sugar caramelised-and you got the distinction of the sharpness of the grapefruit against the sweetness of the sugar. We actually served it for our Christmas Day lunch.
If I was a lot disappointed I think it was because some of the outside area was not as pristine as I would have expected-but I suppose by Florida standards it is quite old.
It was fairly wheelchair accessible –certainly the dining room we used was-it did have a bit of a difficult path down to it-but we did manage. I don’t remember using a toilet-so maybe they didn’t have an accessible one. The gift shop was up a couple of stairs –so that was out of bounds.
Would I go back? Yes but only for a special occasion.
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