Chart House: Great view, not much more

I was recently gifted with a gift card to Chart House -a place I’d never been to before. Since yesterday was a glorious evening and my dining companion and I had no other preferences, well – we decided to brave the prom crowds & take the only available reservations left at 5:15.

Nabbed a table by the window – so far, so good. Splurged for a grey goose martini – evening’s looking even rosier by now. And then the sales spiels began.

We got suckered into the shrimp & avocado martini as an appetizer – shrimp was okay, but the ‘avocado cream’ could have used a shot or two of lime juice, a bit of salt – and far less garlic. My lobster bisque was fine, as was my companion’s clam chowder. But the real disappointment set in when I got my grilled halibut with an oscar topping.

For 36 bucks, I got maybe 2-3 ounces of halibut – perfectly grilled, but still. The steamed broccoli accompaniment was overcooked and totally pedestrian, while the rice pilaf could have (and probably did) come from a box. I’d actually had a much better halibut preparation (and a far bigger portion, accompanied by great sides) for far less money in the hotel dining room at a Courtyard by Marriott last December, to be honest . My companion was happy with his prime rib – even though I thought the horseradish sauce was long on sauce, short on actual horseradish.

We had great fun listening in and/or table watching, though. The crowd of prom-goers next to us rejected the special prom menu in favor of the regular dinner menu – one petite young thing promptly decided that she’d have the caesar salad for an appetizer, followed by the chocolate lava cake for her entree (we left before we got to watch her try to eat it without dripping on her dress…) And I scared my dining companion by winding my napkin into a perfect fly swatter & threatening to use it on the humungous fly that kept planting himself on the plate glass window mere feet away.

The fun ended when the bill arrived – I choked down the last dregs of my glass of King Estate pinot gris in shock (available at your local Safeway for 11 bucks, but served up for 11.50 a glass at Chart House) when I started tallying up the numbers. And I ended up using all of my hundred dollar gift card – plus a generous tip for our server, who was more than competent – for a totally overpriced and entirely mediocre meal – one drink, one glass of wine, and no dessert or coffee, even.

Would I go again on my own dime? No way in hell. The view may be great – but I’d rather have decent food instead.

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