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.
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). The food is also pretty pricey – mostly fish and seafood with a handful of steaks, prime rib, short ribs and chicken.
Ambience: It was a seamless transition from Charley’s Crab to Chart House: Remodeling was done over four months, and the 470-seat restaurant closed one August night and 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.
- An appetizer of steamed mussels – a big bowl of mollusks in a garlic and wine sauce
- A refreshing crab, avocado and mango stack – a colorful array of jumbo lump crabmeat in a rémoulade with a mango salsa, chopped avocadoes and a topping of crisp sweet potato chips
- A complimentary breadbasket – kicky house-made jalapeño and Cheddar biscuits and a warm poppy seed loaf
- Surf and turf – tender, flavorful short ribs in a cabernet demi-glace paired with seared scallops in a soy sauce with a little ginger
- Mixed seafood grill – 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
- Mimosas and Willie Marys – a kicky take on Bloody Marys made with Absolut Peppar, blue cheese-stuffed olives and a pepperoncini garnish
- Delicious Maryland eggs Benedict with a crab cake base and a well-balanced Hollandaise sauce
- A good, albeit pricey, lobster omelet
- Nicely done fried calamari & friends, the friends being red and green bell peppers, jalapeños, sweet potatoes and crisp sweet potato chips
- Classic crème brulee garnished with fresh berries, but the best part was savoring each bite with a waterfront view.
- 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
What Didn’t Work
- Mushrooms with a bland crab stuffing
- 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
- Too sweet macadamia-crusted mahi-mahi embellished with a warm peanut sauce spiked with Frangelico liqueur and served with a mango relish
- Salty and odd-tasting seared yellowfin tuna