In the Midwest, we know steak. So when we hear someone raving about the “best steak they’ve ever had,” we have a right to be skeptical. But one Missouri steakhouse may be living up to the hype. Locals and world travelers alike are all suggesting that Michael’s Steak Chalet really is a little bit of steakhouse heaven at the Lake of the Ozarks.
One of the restaurant’s owners, Brent Boyles, isn’t giving away the secret to its perfect steaks just yet. He and his partners, Michael Ismail and Terry Pabst, keep their recipes well guarded. What they will tell you is that their cuts of meat are given a lot of time to reach greatness, which creates flavor that is eagerly sought by patrons. “We slow roast our prime rib for 16 hours; we run out most weekends,” Boyles said.
Other entrees at Michael’s are also prepared to the highest culinary standards, so if steak isn’t your thing, many other items will please. Seafood, poultry and pork are partnered with fresh, steamed vegetables and classic savory or sweet sauces. Michael’s Steak Chalet also serves lighter lunch fare from May through October in its wine garden and spacious patio.
The location is another bonus for groups visiting Michael’s. The restaurant is housed in a Swiss-style chalet right on the lake. The rustic charm of the chalet is unique, as are the gorgeous lake sunsets. Tom Baker, the CEO of Summit Holdings, a real estate holding firm with offices in Edwardsville, Ill., and Naples, Fla., says Michael’s welcoming atmosphere attracts many different people. Dining at the restaurant, you are as likely to see a CEO of a major company or professional athlete as you are a local fisherman.
“Having seen the lake area grow over the years, I can tell you, it’s still kind of old school,” Baker said. “It’s still kind of the ‘Old Ozarks’—a really nice location away from the hustle and bustle. It’s a good place to get away.”
FINE STEAKS IN OLD SWISS VILLAGE
The restaurant was once part of the Swiss Village, which was founded by Rennhardt and Winifred Hilderbrand in the late 1920s. The Hilderbrands chose the spot because it reminded them of their European homeland overlooking the Rhine River. In 1974, the location was taken over by the Wine Garden Restaurant, which was also popular with locals.
The location turned out to be ideal for Boyles and his partners, who for many years had been making plans for their steak house. In fact, before they opened Michael’s in 1994, they consulted with another famous steakhouse proprietor, well known in St. Louis for his steaks and signature sauce.
“Growing up in Belleville, Ill., my partners and I loved going to Andria’s Steakhouse in O’Fallon, Ill.,” Boyles said. “When we decided to get in the restaurant business, Sam Andria was looking to expand his ‘steak sauce’ business to the Lake of the Ozarks. Sam agreed to work with us for one year and helped us get started in the restaurant business.”
And if the accolades from Michael’s Steak Chalet tell you anything, this inspiration has made for a fine steak, indeed. “They have the best steak in the world, literally,” Baker said. “I’ve been all over the country—Los Angeles, New York, Naples, Florida, all over the Midwest. I’ve taken clients from all over the country, and no one has disagreed.”
Richard Bartow, executive vice president of George K. Baum & Company, an investment banking company based in Kansas City, shared the sentiment. “The steaks are absolutely fabulous—they are mouth- watering,” he said. “My wife will hardly eat a steak anywhere else.”
Michael’s is famous for both steaks and prime rib. Steaks are hand-trimmed and aged for 31 days. A 12-14 ounce strip steak is $25.95. Tender filets range in size from a 6-ounce petite cut for $29.95 to a 12-ounce portion for $39.95. The prime rib comes in three sizes, and is served with au jus and horseradish sauce. A 12-14 ounce English cut is $29.95. The regular cut of 16-18 ounces is $34.95. For the generous appetite, a 22-plus ounce serving is $39.95.
All of the steaks, as well as the other entrées, come with the choice of soup, salad, potato or vegetable.
A WELL ROUNDED MENU
Those who have visited the restaurant over the years can expect to find these famous steaks, along with other classic menu items, cooked to perfection without fuss or pretention. “We have nightly features, but our menu has changed very little over the years,” Boyles said.
A popular non-beef entrée is a whole grilled pork tenderloin, seared and topped with a sweet plum sauce for $22.95. Two chicken breast entrées include a dish sautéed with mushrooms, tarragon, and white wine sauce, and another is complemented with Sam Andria’s famous sauce, each for $19.95.
Appropriate for the Ozarks, Michael’s menu also includes numerous seafood items on the menu. These include Michael’s baked orange roughy in a white wine and lemon butter sauce, a grilled Norwegian salmon, and a yellowfin tuna, sashimi-grade, that is blackened and grilled just to temperature. A lobster tail is served as an entrée for $39.95, or can be ordered as an accompaniment to another entrée for $29.00.
Smaller plates on the menu are also impressive. Appetizers include mushrooms stuffed with Maine lobster and herbs, crab cakes accompanied by a spicy Grand Marnier sauce, and escargots and scallops baked in mushroom caps and garlic butter and served along with puff pastry. Michael’s has a children’s menu featuring a small cut of prime rib, shrimp,
and chicken tenders.
Lunch is also delicious at Michael’s. The lunch menu is offered from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the spring, summer, and early fall, and offers items such as flatbread pizzas, salads and cheese platters. With an extensive wine list, Michael’s can be a lovely place for a wine and cheese party, especially on the patio when the weather is nice.
In addition to its wine selection, Michael’s has 40 vodkas to choose from and a specialty cocktail menu. A notable choice is the Godiva chocolate martini. Another favorite is Old Swiss Village punch, a fruity drink on the rocks that locals have been enjoying in this same spot on the lake for years. The owners of the Wine Garden Restaurant passed on the secret recipe to Boyles and his partners.
The restaurant’s dining rooms with views of the lake offer a classy spot for gourmet dinners for clients or private parties. But what keeps groups coming back—aside from the steaks and other entrees—might just be the hospitality.
“We’ve hosted various dinners at Michael’s and have for probably for the past 15 years,” Bartow said. He has brought groups ranging in size from 10 to 120 people, and he has yet to have a bad experience at the steakhouse. “We think it’s the best place we’ve ever found. The food is over-the-top, the service is great and the view is wonderful. Our clients love it.”
Groups can work within their budgets and choose from the items off the menu, or they can work with the chef to create their own customized menus. “We offer full meals or we can customize an appetizer party starting at $15 per guest,” Boyles said. Michael’s does not charge a separate fee for renting the private dining rooms.
Guests can rent out the dining room upstairs for 75 people, or the private room adjoining the bar area for 20 people. A large group can have the entire restaurant and patio. “For large groups or weddings, we have closed to the public. We also have had several weddings in the afternoon on our patio overlooking the lake,” Boyles said.
And while the restaurant offers fine dining, the atmosphere is always laid back and the owners and staff make an effort to get to know the patrons, which appeals to many who have hosted events in the space, including Baker.
“It’s the kind of place where you come in one or two times, and they treat you like family,” he said. “I’ll take clients there, and they will treat me like I’m an owner. That’s really cool.” MM&E
(Heather McNeill is a contributor from Kansas City, Mo.)
Michael’s Steak Chalet
1440 Swiss Village Road
Osage Beach, MO 65065