Friday, November 28, 2008

Uncharted Waters

The Chart House, 231 Yacht Club Way, Redondo Beach 90277 310-372-3464

About 20+ years ago, we had a bad dinner at the Idylwild Chart House (I'd hate to be hanging as long as those shrimp) and vowed never to darken the door of another one - to explain why it took all these years for us to go to the local one. Since the entryway is through a long parking garage to a building directly on the sand, we'd never even seen it!

What we did see was a big banner advertising their Thanksgiving dinner out on Hermosa Avenue. Normally, we would go to Ports O Call and bask on the patio, but rain was threatened. So we looked at each other, shrugged and I made a reservation.

The restaurant doors are visible after you drive into the parking garage and they open to what you see above. Ocean in three directions.

We both ordered the Thanksgiving Day dinner, preceded by a shared shrimp cocktail. It came to the table in a blue glass bowl, set on an off-curving stem -- five big prawns. The surprise was the sauce -- like a gazpacho with tons of river shrimp! Quite innovative!

Their holiday dinner consisted of: white and dark meat (they couldn't give me white meat only,) cornbread stuffing with pan gravy (not enough gravy for me; I like to wallow in it,) mashed potatoes or a baked sweet potato with rum butter sauce,* creamed spinach ("No thanks," I told our server) cranberry relish (in it's own sweet little dish) and choice of pecan or pumpkiun pie. $24.99. The shrimp cocktail was $12.99 and I much prefer a flat $25 or $13.

The food came out plated and was as it should be -- tender turkey, moist dressing, a properly slit and squinched sweet potato ... and all was well until we got to dessert. My slice of pecan pie was cold and gluey. It reminded me (unpleasantly) of those little pecan pies you can buy in gas station convenience stores. Richie gloated that his pumpkin pie (graham cracker crust) was superior to theirs (flour crust.)

It's not fair to judge a restaurant on a holiday when "Oh, we're booked solid from 1 to 7 p.m." so we'll have to go back. I could certainly deal with another shrimp cocktail and perhaps a trip to the salad bar (they have caviar!) -- $16 for salad as dinner; $7 as an add-on.

*The rum sauce was a melting ball in the middle of the steaming sweet potato. My best guess at duplicating it -- and I'm going to try to because it was tasty -- would be to cream equal amounts of brown sugar and sweet butter together, adding a little bit of dark rum to thin it faintly and then chilling it and serving it with a melon baller as a scoop.

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