As a rule, we’re wary of sweetbreads. We’ve never been able to wrap our minds (or taste buds) around the concept of organ meat as entrée. But our attitude was forever changed following a visit to one of the best-kept secrets in Saugatuck, Michigan. Dine in during your stay at the Belvedere Inn & Restaurant ($215 to $325 a night), and you’ll encounter a $50, four-course, prix-fixe feast tantalizing enough to make culinary adventurers of even conservative eaters. The featured sweetbreads are simply luscious, as is the Chateaubriand and the swordfish steak. Before crafting the Belvedere’s dinner menu, the Galway born, ex-Bucktown resident Parker Shaun Glynn spent years in Chicago concocting recipes as an executive chef for the Hilton hotel chain and the director of operations for Sopraffina Marketcaffe. In 2003, Glynn and his partner Pete Ta—an investment banker—left Bucktown for Saugatuck and refashioned the then-down-at-its-heels Belvedere into a destination.
Today, the 97-year-old Prairie-style estate is a combination of Arcadia (the grounds evoke a tasteful version of Versailles) and that mansion where Keira Knightley’s character lived in Atonement. Jennifer Holliday was a recent guest at the Belvedere Suite, a merger of old-world elegance (lots of burnished wood and antiques) and decadent modern conveniences (the two-person Jacuzzi has 10 jets.) Still, Chef Glynn’s dinner menu isn’t common knowledge. He and Ta have yet to really market the menu, which includes vegetarian options alongside those sweetbreads and an apple tatin with Garden of Eden levels of delicious, apple-y decadence.
Off the main drag in Saugatuck, the Belvedere is ideal for contemplative, quiet seclusion. Should you want to be in the midst of the galleries, restaurants, and shops that make Saugatuck the Provincetown of the Midwest (a LGBT-friendly haven for artists and tourists alike) head for the Bentley Waterfront Suites ($150 to $325 a night) or consider splurging on the Bellevue Harbour House ($2,900 to $4,000 a week), which has accommodations for eight and a private dock for your yacht. Also owned by Glynn and Ta, both are within steps of bars and beaches.
GO The Belvedere Inn & Restaurant, 3656 63rd St., Saugatuck; 877-858-5777; www.thebelvedereinn.com. The Bentley Waterfront Suites, 326 Water St., Saugatuck; 877-858-5777; www.bentleysuites.com. Bellevue Harbour House, 419 Lake St., Saugatuck; 877-858-5777, www.thebelvedereinn.com/BHH.htm.