The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Some clarifications about our trip and our room

Bunny is concerned that I've given the impression that she forced me on this trip to Chalet Suzanne, but that is far from the truth. While she did come up with the idea, she did ask me if I wanted to go and I said yes. No coersion involved.

There is one other thing I need to clarify—I said that the bedroom was six inches lower than the rest of the suite—and it is. It's just that there's two steps leading down into the bedroom—it isn't a sheer drop or anything bad like that.

A good sign

Bunny and I hit the Chalet Suzanne Dining Room Lounge for breakfast.

[Okay, I can see this being a 4-star restaurant]

The Dining Room Lounge is a multi-level facility. Really, each room is practically its own level, usually a few steps up or down as you work your way through the place. The decor reeks of a high-class restaurant and the staff is, as always, exremely nice. We're lead through several rooms (and levels) to our table, overlooking the lake (and incidentally, right below our room—yes, we didn't have that far to walk); jazz music barely audible in the background. Our waitress handed us the breakfast menu, a piece of slate just slightly smaller than an iPad with that day's selection.

Bunny and I both ordered the pancakes and bacon.

The plates came with three stacks of pancakes. The pancakes were roughly dollar coin sized, perhaps three, four inches across, and less “pancake” and more “crêpe”—very thin, nearly translucent. And excellent, some of the best pancakes I've had.

And the bacon? Well, it's bacon. Bacon is always good. If this is the level of food we can expect, then dinner should be well worth the trip.

Isengard, a spooky place, and a gang of turtles

The weather permitted.

We saw Isengard!

[Isengard!  It seems the Uruk-hai have yet to show up]

Okay, it's really Bok Tower, a rather large and imposing musical instrument which is acoustically engineered such that the sound only carries to the immediate vicinity around the tower itself.

We learned that there is an elevator inside, so the carillonneurs don't have to climb twenty flights of stairs to get to the keyboard.

We also learned that there are very few pictures from inside Bok Tower, and the few that do exist (of the first floor) are mostly in black-and-white.

After leaving Isengard, we then found ourselves at a nearby attraction, Spook Hill.

[I think it's an optical illusion] [Wow!  We really are moving backwards!]

The illusion is pretty good. Stop the car at the white line, place it in neutral and let off the break, and yes, you do start rolling backwards. The perspective makes it appear as if you are moving up the hill, but that's all it is—an illusion. A darned clever one, but only an illusion.

Once back at Chalet Suzanne, Bunny asked if I could take pictures of the turtles in the lake. I cheerfully obliged and started taking pictures of the happily swiming turtles, but then, things turned ugly—they started bum rushing me!

[The turtles are out to get me!]

Well, it wan't much of a bum rush—they are turtles after all, and I could easily outpace them back to the safely of the room. But they did rush towards me, sticking their little heads up at me, daring me to defy them and their territory.

Well … something like that.

By then, it was time to dress for dinner anyway …

So, how good is the Chalet Suzanne Dining Room Lounge?

Bunny and I arrived at 5:00 pm for our five course dinner. We really didn't have far to go, just outside our room, down some stairs and around the building.

First up, the appetizer. I'm not fond of grapefruit, and a am thoroughly not a fan of chicken livers, so I opted for the Maryland Crab Cakes; Bunny kept with tradition for this course and had the Caramelized Grapefruit and Organic Chicken Liver. The crab cakes were very good, but not quite as excellent as the crab cakes at Cap's Place (which I'm surprised I haven't written about, seeing how getting there involves a boat ride). Bunny loved the Caramelized Grapefruit and Organic Chicken Liver.

Next course, soup, and both of us had the traditional Romaine Soup, which doesn't have any romaine in it (and hasn't had romaine in it since 1957, when the recipe changed so it could be canned and sold). It does however, have spinach and mushrooms. Bunny loved the soup. I didn't care for it. I found it to be a bit heavy in pepper, with a subtle other flavor that I couldn't quite place, but I didn't like. It wasn't repulsive and I could eat it, but for me, the soup that went to the moon could have stayed there with Apollo 15.

Next course, salad, and here, I kept with tradition with the unique Chalet Cæsar Salad, while Bunny bucked tradition and went with Baby Blend Salad. Bunny loved the salad, whereas I … well …

Okay. I have to explain something about my food dislikes. Generally speaking I have a thing about sweet dishes, and I tend to dislike the mixing of savory and sweet. I will admit to not being at all consistent about this (I love bacon and syrup for instance) and I have a larger problem with sweet dishes than I do savory. For instance, don't bother serving me rice pudding as that triggers my gag reflex. I just can't eat rice pudding. But risotto? I love risotto. The thing is, there's no difference in texture (another thing I have—I find some food textures revolting) as both are soupy, but rice pudding is sweet and risotto is savory. Same deal with bread pudding. Instant gag reflex, yet I love the bread in French Onion soup (and Bunny loves pointing out that French Toast is a type of bread pudding, but not in my universe). Again, it's a sweet/savory thing.

Cream cheese—I hate the flavor of it. And the idea of cheese anything in dessert is another thing I find repulsive. Don't get me wrong, I generally like cheese (except for cream cheese), and because I associate “cheese” with “savory,” I don't care for it in desserts.

And finally we get to gelatin. Me, I associate gelatin with dessert. You know, Jell-o. The idea of a sweet dessert-type item in a savory dish I find revolting. And that means aspics. Which reminds me of horrible things from the 70s and …


So the Cæsar Salad sitting before me. The unique Chalet Cæsar Salad. The artichoke in the middle of the salad is unexpected, but okay, I can deal with that. What I couldn't deal with were the two bits of slime on either side of the dish—orange aspic and tomato aspic.


Okay, yes, the non-contaminated portions of the Cæsar Salad were very good; perhaps some of the best Cæsar Salad I've had. But I could not wrap my head around the slimy bits of aspic in the dish. For me, they marred an otherwise excellent salad.

Yes, I'm still emotionally scared over the incident.

Anyway, onto the next course, easily the most problematic portion of our dinner—the entrée.

We both ordered the Grilled Buffalo Ribeye, medium for Bunny, medium rare for me. And not being a fan of winter vegetables, I was able to substitute mushrooms for the zucchini.

The entrées arrived. Mashed sweet potatoes. See above about sweet and savory. My buffalo ribeye was cooked fine, but Bunny's was still a bit too raw for her liking. So they took both dishes back. I to get regular mashed potatoes, and Bunny to have her buffalo ribeye placed on the grill for another couple of minutes. The dishes came back and we started to eat.

“Is your steak tough?” asked Bunny. “Because mine is very tough.”

“It's buffalo,” I said. “It's a game animal.”


“Yes,” I said. “Buffalo.”

“This isn't beef?”

“Nope. Buffalo.”

“I thought ‘buffalo’ meant a type of cut!”


Suffice to say, Bunny did not enjoy the Buffalo Ribeye.

I, on the other hand, found it to be very good.

The mashed potatoes weren't that great (Bunny tried them, liked them, but realized they had cheese. I'm not a fan of cheese in mashed potatoes, prefering a more pure approach of a dash of milk and a bit heavy on the butter).

And the mushrooms … well, let's just say I found the taste I didn't enjoy in the non-romaine Romaine Soup.

Finally, dessert. Bunny had the Crème Brûlée and I the Orange Aspic Pound Cake.

Hey, just because I found the orange aspic on my Cæsar Salad doesn't mean I don't like orange gelatin. It just has to be in the right context—in this case, dessert (yes, I'm weird that way).

And the desserts where very good. But at this point we really couldn't finish them, as we were both stuffed at the end of a five course meal, and passed out in a food coma as soon as we waddled back to our room.

Overall, the food was good; the only major failings were our own expectations on the food (mushrooms and aspic for me; buffalo for Bunny). Was it worth the price we paid? Even had we enjoyed the full meal, I still feel it was too expensive.

Notes from an overheard dinner conversation at a 4-star restaurant

“Look, there's an aligator in the lake.”

“I don't see it.”

“Over there.”

“Hmm … looks like a log to me.”

“I've never seen a log move like that before.”

“The wind is making it bob like that.”

“I'll bet you that's an alligator.”

“How about loser pays for dinner.”

“Oh is that another 'gator in the lake again? I swear we had one removed just last week.”


“I was paying for dinner anyway.”

“I wonder what they eat?”

“The turtles.”

“But it can't eat through the shell.”

“Alligators pretty much swallow their food whole.”

“But what happens to the shell?”

“I guess it comes painfully out the other end. Oh,sorry. Waitress, could we get an extra napkin?”

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