I recently was working in Monticello Kentucky and stayed in Somerset Kentucky. The restaurant scene is modest, but one clearly stands out far above the others when it comes to “a gourmet experience” – The Chalet. I have eaten at this restaurant multiple times during my stays in Somerset, excellent ambiance, wonderful food and very good service. It is an amazing gem set close to Lake Cumberland.
Chef Bobby Crews graciously agreed to an interview. The restaurant is owned by Chefs Michael Wells and Ed Nazario. I did not have the pleasure of meeting the owners, but Chef Bobby was a wonderful representative of this great restaurant.
Between these chefs they have over 50 years of experience. The restaurant opened and had a ribbon ceremony in November 2022 to much acclaim. These chefs have a second restaurant, less formal, called “Mulligan’s” in the Woodson Bend resort area. It has been in business for 8 years. I would have gone to this restaurant but it closes during the winter months, reopening during the boating season.
Chef Bobby said it “takes a strong mindset, dedication and sacrifice” to make it in the restaurant business. Preparing the food is just a minor part of owning a restaurant. All the other issues, hiring, advertising, the building upkeep etc … make this business a challenge. However, the Chalet has done very well on all fronts. They started a catering business, “Somerset Culinary Company” where they offer a variety of catering packages to accomodate their clients.
When it comes to the wrapping of food Chef Bobby said “a lot of people don’t know how to utilize wrapped foods .. Chefs will never understand it all.” When Chalet first opened, they had an en papillote dish. Sadly, no one ordered it so they took it off the menu. It is true that “people stay in their own eating patterns”, but Chef Bobby feels that pallets need to broaden, and I would agree. En Papillote was the technique that grabbed my interest in wrapped foods years ago.
All the pictures in the restaurant on the walls were personal pictures from the owners’ trips to Florence, Venezia, Germany, and other countries. Chef Bobby has a picture of one of his original creations using scallops, see below.
I ate there by myself and with my wife when she came to Somerset with me. We devoured the salmon, ate with joy the pasta, revelled in the philo wrapped shrimp, were enraptured by the crab gateau, floated away with the cream of potato and tomato bisque soup – I could go on and on.
The Trempette au fromage is an amazing cheese “dip” and was just heavenly. We had this more than once, it was too good to pass up. It was almost like a soufflé, light and delicious. Cheesy without a heavy taste of cheese. I highly recommend this appetizer. One night I had the fish and chips. I must admit I am a fish and chips fanatic and always want malt vinegar with this dish. For this dish no malt vinegar was available, however you could feel the crunch of the crust and the soft delicious white fish interior. The lack of a malt vinegar was more than overcome by the “tarter sauce”. I hate to call it “tarter sauce” since usually this is a gloppy, sweet, mayonnaise dressing that I really don’t like. However, this sauce was wonderful. It was a great balance between not too thick and not too sweet, with just enough savory flavor. It was a True Sauce in the French tradition. So I quickly forgave them for not having any malt vinegar as I engaged in the gastronomic joy of eating this great fish and chips dish.
For desert – the apple pandowdy, a wrapped apple in a puff pastry, the apple was just right, soft yet crunchy. The puff pastry was not too thick and absorbed the sauce very well. The cranberries and pecans added to the presentation as did the Chantilly cream. YUMMM is all I can say.
All of the above was not the end of our culinary experiences. Chef Bobby showed me the kitchen and then a beautiful Lion’s Mane musroom they had just delivered. As a special treat, he cut a piece the next night and grilled it, delicious.
Chef Bobby has learned his craft very well!
I have one comment; having an after dinner digestif would have been great. A cognac, especially since the restaurant has a French focus, would have been wonderful. Something to consider for the future.
All in all, I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone in the Somerset Kentucky area. Frankly it is well worth a trip there just for the Chalet experience. A real gem and we feel so fortunate to have had the chance to experience this wonderful restaurant.
Thanks for these wonderful culinary experiences Chefs Bobby, Chef Wells and Chef Nazario.