Waterfront Elegance at Chart House
Sep 20, 2013 10:36AM
● By Cate Reynolds
By John Hetmanski // Photos by Tony Lewis, Jr.
When the first rush of crisp fall air whips through the region and the weather chills, the warm fireplace of the Annapolis Chart House is welcome respite and makes you forget about the weather quickly. On Spa Creek in the Eastport section of Annapolis, my guests and I enjoyed our first steps inside this classic atmosphere. Friendly and professional greetings from the staff allowed us to shake off the chill by the fire and take in a spectacular harbor view. The location alone is enough to make anyone relax and unwind after a day of travel for visitors or work for locals. Every table in the large dining room shares the harbor view with a few comfortable booths available for those who prefer to enjoy plush seating. Upbeat music playing in the background keeps the energy of the atmosphere very positive and we were quickly seated to a window table.
The House Cocktail menu is worthy of a close look, with custom martinis and classics from which to choose. Our choices were a Fiery Cucumber Martini ($12) and a Pomegranate Mojito ($10). As we began our look over the menu for dinner, our drinks arrived in quick fashion and were shared to taste the different flavors of each. Cucumber had a cayenne pepper rim to create the fiery part of a well done martini, and the Mojito was minty enough without the typical leaves that can get in the way of enjoying a drink sometimes. Pomegranate flavor was great and a glass of Estancia Pinot Grigio ($9.50) was as subtle and balanced as could be expected—a good choice to balance the wide range of interesting flavors to come.
The appetizer selection covers a wide range of choices, from cold tuna tartare, oysters on the half shell, and fresh salads to warm lobster spring rolls, crab cakes, coconut shrimp, crab stuffed mushrooms, cream of crab soup, and clam chowder. We chose the Calamari and Friends ($12.99) and the Fried Asparagus ($8.99). The calamari was lightly floured with a choice of delicate rings and tentacles fried just crispy enough and accompanied with slices of sweet potato and red peppers. Classic Marinara and a Thai chili dipping sauce made for interesting flavor combinations. The Fried Asparagus was served on a beautifully arranged plate topped with Maytag blue cheese and a thyme tomato sauce that disappeared quickly. A great combination of flavors and very fresh asparagus, I could have easily ordered another.
Now let’s unveil what I think may be the finest salad bar in the land. With a minimum of 30 or more ingredients—the freshest of fruits, vegetables, house-made potato salad, greens, beans, and dressings—it can easily be made into a meal. All of this is well-maintained throughout the dinner hour by a staff that makes this part of the menu pop.
We continued our dinner choices with fresh gazpacho ($6.99) and a Caesar salad ($7.99). The gazpacho was elegantly served in a swirling stemmed glass chilled to the right temperature with crunchy fresh cucumbers and tomatoes seasoned in a classic style for this timeless cold soup. Croutons and a dap of sour cream made all the textures combine extremely well—very refreshing. Our Caesar was prepared in the kitchen and was done with a traditional shaved parmesan cheese, anchovy, and garlic, and topped with a dressing I’m certain was made ala minute. It was so nice to have a Caesar done correctly without all the other add-ons that have become popular these days.
The Chart House’s reputation has been proven for more than 25 years on seafood, and the entrée selection is certain to show how much pride they take in showcasing their “Freshest Available” mantra. There are some other choices that can tempt you away, however.
Prime Rib 10- and 16-ounce cuts, filet mignon, NY strip, and chicken Romano are all available with unique sauces and presentation. But we decided to go with the seafood we love so much.
We chose the Blackened Rockfish ($32.99)— one of the specials for the night—the Spiced Yellowfin Ahi ($35.99), and Pan Seared Scallops ($29.99). The Rockfish must have been swimming that afternoon—it was that fresh. Cooked to perfection and Cajun seasoned just enough to make it No. 1 at our table that night, the dish was served with a pyramid of seasoned rice, fresh broccoli, and red peppers. We opted for a Crab and Shrimp topping ($7.99) that made this dish even more outstanding.
The Spiced Yellowfin Ahi was cooked rare and matched up nicely with the wasabi cream sauce painted on the plate and the wasabi mashed potatoes. It was a great presentation. The Pan Seared Scallops were large sea scallops cooked with a light ginger, soy, and wasabi cream. The fresh Asian green beans complimented the tender scallops and wasabi mashed potatoes.
All of the entrees are presented artistically and generous portions will take care of the heartiest appetites. The signature dessert that we ordered in advance (30 minutes to prepare) was the Hot Chocolate Lava Cake ($10.99), and it indeed was a plate to share. Godiva liqueur, chocolate cake, and Heath bar crunch on top of vanilla ice cream, this was a perfect way to finish our Chart House adventure.
A classy environment with professional appointments everywhere to enjoy, the Chart House is surely on course for a future that will stay in tune with sustainability trends and hospitality excellence.
Chart House Annapolis
300 Second St., Annapolis
Appetizers $7.99 – 15.99
Entrees $26.99 - 35.99
Wine List $6 - 21 glass;
$24 - 295 Bottle
Street Parking Available