When I groused yet again (verbally to whoever was within earshot and on this blog for those who weren’t) about disappointing meals in Estes Park, my friend Suzy who lives there made two suggestions: the Rock Inn and the Chalet Restaurant at Marys Lake Lodge. In fact, when she learned that I was coming to town for two nights at the YMCA of the Rockies’ Estes Park Center, she made reservations. She was spot-on with two excellent recommendations.
My husband, two friends (not themselves a couple) and I dined at the Chalet Restaurant exactly one week ago as I write this. An excellent selection of wines by the glass accompanied the appetizer, salad and entree selections. It now is about 9:30 p.m., and 7 x 24 hours ago, we were on dessert. Four of us left with four happy tummies and four broad smiles. Only the next morning (Saturday) did my husband and I realize that it was our 17th wedding anniversary. We hadn’t planned a romantic immediate pre-anniversary dinner for four, but that’s what it turned out to be. And we were happy to have pre-celebrated with a fine meal and good friends in a lovely place.
The Chalet Dining Room
We walked through the Tavern to reach the Chalet, passing through a heavy door that effectively blocks the Tavern’s sports bar sounds. On the left is the wine case. On the right is the dining room, whose subdued light, flickering candles, linen-draped tables and pillars that further divide the space create an intimate ambiance. Mellow happily unamplified live music allowed us to converse in normal voices. Our South African waitress was attentive, and the ambiance both refined and relaxed, which is quite a remarkable balance.
The menu is printed on both sides. The side that says, “The Chalet and Tavern at Marys Lake Lodge” contains the fine-dining dishes. The side that says, “The Tavern and Chalet at Marys Lake Lake” lists the Tavern entrees, burgers and sandwiches, with the desserts listed on the bottom.
Our Night-Before Anniversary Dinner
I don’t know anything about chef Jeff Ernstedt except his name and the fact he sent out the best, most sophisticated food I’ve ever had in Estes Park. The menu does address the tastes of the meat-and-potato lovers who frequent Estes Park with four cuts of beef on one side of the menu and eight beef dishes from pot roast to a Rueben sandwich made with house-cured corned beef on the other. Seafood, poultry and limited vegetarian options are on both sides.
Price Check: In the Chalet Dining Room, appetizers, $7-$24; soups and salads, $4-$14; entrees, $21-$34; $2.99-$7.99.
Urbanspoon.com includes the Tavern but not the Chalet in the Marys Lake Lodge, so I add it below.