The Chart House cashes in on coastal view dining
Photos and Story By Kelley Carlson
With a reputation for providing stellar scenery, it’s no wonder people navigate their way to the Chart House for dining. All 18 locations nationwide offer picturesque panoramas, but the Cardiff site is unique in that it has one of the few sea-level ocean views, protected only by a bolder formation. “During the day, our breathtaking views pan the coastline in both directions for miles,” General Manager Patrick Fortner said. “At night, our romantic setting with spotlights that illuminate the crashing waves is unparalleled.”
Because the restaurant’s focal point is the surf, its decor is simple and inspired by the natural surroundings. The carpeting is a blend of deep shades that include blue, green and gold, while the sand-colored walls display warm-toned paintings.
In one corner of the dining room is the bar with stools, low tables and chairs to sink into, and a TV primarily dialed into sports. Upstairs (used for private parties and overflow dining) there’s a bird’s-eye view of the restaurant and photos of George’s, the original establishment on the site. Sunbeams stream through the skylights; uptempo music can be heard in the background. As a waterfront restaurant, it’s only natural that the Chart House features seafood on its menu, along with steaks and other assorted dishes.
During weekdays, guests can stop in for happy hour and order house favorites such as the slightly spicy Ahi Nachos, consisting of thin tuna slices and pickled ginger on fried wontons with a decoration of wasabi cream.
For those who miss out and still want to whet their appetite before diving into an entree, there are more than a dozen starters, including Crab Stuffed Mushrooms that are baked in a white wine sauce. And there are soups and salads, from the award-winning Clam Chowder to Beefsteak Tomato Salad on a bed of spinach that’s tossed in lemon vinaigrette with chopped smoked bacon, blue cheese crumbles, tempura fried onion rings and balsamic drizzle.
Among the main dish selections are the Shrimp & Artichoke Linguini tossed with spinach, tomatoes, garlic herb butter and sprinkled with feta cheese; and the Blue Cheese Filet Mignon, a favorite among the employees. Fortner advises Prime Rib fans to come early for cuts more rare.
The children’s menu — which doubles as a two-page coloring book — includes coconut shrimp, grilled chicken breast, chicken tenders, prime rib and hamburgers.
To wrap up the meal, options range from the Hot Chocolate Lava Cake, which takes 30 minutes to prepare, to the Traditional Key Lime Pie that is made with Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime Juice.
Those who want to save money may want to consider Distinctive Dining, a three-course meal consisting of a starter, entree and dessert for $29.99 per person, available Sunday through Thursday.
On Sundays, the restaurant offers brunch with items as simple as French toast and more elaborate ones such as the seafood quiche, stuffed with shrimp, lobster, crabmeat, jack cheese and spinach.
“Rely on our well-trained professional staff to guide you through your dining experience; they won’t let you down,” Fortner said. “Make a reservation one hour before sunset for that picture-perfect moment.”
And for that perfect meal, Fortner recommends the current specials of Shrimp, Brie and Artichoke Melt; Strawberry Spinach Salad & Gorgonzola Waffle; and King Salmon with Crispy Potato Leek Cakes.
Address: 2588 S. Coast Highway 101, Cardiff
Phone: (760) 436-4044
The Vibe: Romantic, intimate, casually elegant
Signature Dishes: East Meets West Tuna; Crab, Avocado & Mango Stack; Macadamia Crusted Fish; Spiced Yellowfin Ahi; Shrimp & Artichoke Linguini; Blue Cheese Filet Mignon; Brandy Peppercorn Medallions & Shrimp
Open Since: 1976
Patio Seating: No
Take Out: No
Happy Hour: 3-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday
On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at lajollalight.com. Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.
This week: Chart House’s Strawberry Spinach Salad
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