Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chart House

Kenneth Watrous is my name. All the opinions here are mine. The also only apply to the places I have tried n Las Vegas.

Last month, we talked about Nobu. This month we went to Chart House in the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street.

Chart House may be a small chain of fine dining locations, but they certainly fit in with the rest of the Las Vegas dining crowd, bringing out a level of class and attractions. The center of Chart House Vegas is an enormous aquarium with lots of different exotic fish inside. These are for viewing and not a storage tank for fresh catches. The fish are interesting to look at and the d├ęcor is built around this central area with more open tables that face it in an almost bar like arrangement. The room is also circular to accommodate that and it can be a bit disorienting if you get up to check on the car or something to find your way back to your table.
Chart House offers a lunch and a dinner menu. Each is also split between your steakhouse offerings and seafood. The steakhouse options are smaller in types than some other places but they offer more cut sizes in their steaks which I’ve always found interesting. They work hard on their prime rib rather than dry aged steaks like some other places. In the seafood department they have a nice selection of different fish and different flavors on display. The Mac Nut Mahi is one of those rarities where they have put together some combination of Hawaiian flavors with Thai influences to create something special. It is also one of those warm and cool dishes with a certain spice to the peanut sauce and a coolness to the mango dressing that goes with.
In the variety within an item, they offer a selection of dressed up shrimp in the Tour de Shrimp. This is a good place to go if you don’t quite know what you want. The flavors are sweet, savory, spicy, the whole array in one platter. The crab-stuffed shrimp is also a quick way to layer your experience with the original food inside food that everything else is trying these days.
One of the more interesting concepts at Chart House is the fish toppers. Instead of offering fish with a specific flavor profile or even a few options on the same cut, they go the pasta route where you pick your fish cut and then can pick what it is prepared in. All the fish is cooked to order pan-seared, blackened or baked, then you go through and pick up what type of finish you want with that. It is hard to say if this is a better option for the veteran seafood lover, that knows what to expect and can fine tune what they want, or if it is for the new-comer that wants to start learning to pick out the flavor profile of the fish while still knowing what they are getting into as a finish.

For me it is always a hard choice between the halibut, which has a thicker and richer flavor with a lighter after taste, or the sea bass which has a wilder and creamier flavor. The halibut usually wins out with the tropic fruit salsa. This gives a really deep flavor profile with a range of solid flavors and sweet finishes. When in doubt a conversation with the waitstaff can get you a bead on what is popular and which fish are more in demand. If I am on the fence with what I want, ordering what is less popular for the day gets me a better experience.
To make this harder there are also a solid compliment of sides that can pair or counter other flavors. These are fairly standard, but they are good at doing what they do simply. In particular are the sizzling mushrooms, which is a nice pile of assorted mushrooms made with a garlic butter. These almost seem like a topper, but can really add a different layer to a variety of the creations. They would also be great with the steaks if you are in the mood to go that route. Steamed asparagus pairs with most of the crustacean offerings and the mango rice is a good way to come down from their spicy ssamjang shrimp or the baja and pico toppings.
-Kenneth Watrous
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