Glorious view, boffo breakfast the big draws at Chart House

 

We were sipping mimosas on the sprawling deck at Chart House, gazing at the gleaming mega yachts gliding along the Intracoastal on a Sunday morning. “It’s a grand day to be a Flori...

By Rochelle Koff | rkoff@MiamiHerald.com

We were sipping mimosas on the sprawling deck at Chart House, gazing at the gleaming mega yachts gliding along the Intracoastal on a Sunday morning. “It’s a grand day to be a Floridian,’’ our waiter said, gently nudging us back to reality – and the menu.

But then, dining with a glorious view – and 300 feet of dock space – is the big attraction at Chart House, in the former home of Charley’s Crab. Both are owned by Landry’s Restaurants, but the chain decided to go for a name with more national recognition in Fort Lauderdale.

It was a seamless transition for patrons: Remodeling was done over four months, and the 470-seat restaurant that closed as Charley’s Crab one August night opened the next day with a new name and flashier look. There’s a shimmering bar, (even the bathroom sinks are illuminated), lots of glass accents, new furniture and an outdoor lounge area with cozy couches. Charley’s fans will recognize many staffers.

On our visits, the dining room was largely empty because everyone wanted to sit outside, even on a chilly night. On our first trip, the plastic awning flaps were lowered for warmth, so the view was not quite as clear.

Expect high markups on the wine list, with about 100 choices (25 by the glass). We settled on a $31 Trapiche Oak Cask, an Argentine chardonnay. (If you come before 8 p.m., you can take advantage of happy hour deals.)

The food is also pretty pricey – mostly fish and seafood with a handful of steaks, prime rib, short ribs and chicken. You can find values: A friend ordered an appetizer of steamed mussels as her main course, and enjoyed a big bowl of mollusks in a garlic and wine sauce for $12.99.

One of our favorite dishes was another appetizer, a refreshing crab, avocado and mango stack. It’s a colorful array of jumbo lump crabmeat in a rémoulade with a mango salsa, chopped avocadoes and a topping of crisp sweet potato chips.

Less successful starters were mushrooms with a bland crab stuffing and Dynamite Scallops – five petite bay scallops, served on the shell, that were overwhelmed by a topping of crabmeat in a mayo-based sauce with wasabi and cream cheese.

The complimentary bread basket is served by request, and it’s worth asking for, with kicky house-made jalapeño and Cheddar biscuits and a warm poppy seed loaf.

Entrees were hit-or-miss. We liked the surf and turf with tender, flavorful short ribs in a cabernet demi-glace paired with seared scallops in a soy sauce with a little ginger, plus a side of mashed potatoes. The mixed seafood grill brings a generous portion of shrimp scampi with a healthy dose of garlic, “bronzed” mahi-mahi in a sweet-spicy sauce and a jumbo crab cake plus mashed potatoes and a few fat asparagus stalks..

The macadamia-crusted mahi-mahi was a little too sweet, embellished with a warm peanut sauce spiked with Frangelico liqueur and served with a mango relish plus Asian-style green beans in a soy glaze.

Our biggest disappointment was the seared yellowfin tuna, which tasted salty and odd – my friend couldn’t eat it. The server offered a replacement, but she had filled up on starters.

We saved room for an over-the-top, hot chocolate lava cake with crunchy pieces of Heath bar and a molten center made with Godiva liqueur, served with vanilla ice cream. (Plan ahead; it takes 30 minutes to prepare.)

There was no need for plastic protection from the elements when we returned for breakfast on a lovely South Florida morning. Mimosas and Willie Marys – a kicky take on Bloody Marys made with Absolut Peppar, blue cheese-stuffed olives and a pepperoncini garnish – were only $5. Our server noticed my husband hadn’t eaten the pepperoncini, so he left it off and added another stuffed olive in the second round.

The winning waiter was also on target with a recommendation of Maryland eggs Benedict with a crab cake base and a well-balanced Hollandaise sauce. It was delicious. A lobster omelet was good but not worth $16.99. Both came with homey fried potatoes.

The dinner menu is served all day, so we also dove into a nicely done order of Fried Calamari & Friends, the friends being red and green bell peppers, jalapeños, sweet potatoes and crisp sweet potato chips served with a marinara and a citrus chili sauce.

Dessert this time was a classic crème brulee garnished with fresh berries, but the best part was savoring each bite with a waterfront view.

If you go

Place: Chart House

Address: 3000 NE 32nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale

Rating:★ ★  1/2 (Good)

Contact: 954-561-4800, www.chart-house.com

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday

Prices: Appetizers $7.99-$15.99, soups and salads $6.99-$8.99, entrees $19.99-$46.99, sides $5.99-$7.99, desserts $6.99-$14.99

FYI: Full bar; happy hour with $4-$6 appetizers 4-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, all day Sunday. Complimentary valet and metered street parking. Boat docking reservations recommended. AX, DN, DS, MC, VS

Speak Up!