The Chart House restaurant chain (www.chart-house.com/) got its start in the early 1960s in Aspen, Colorado. The restaurant was developed by famed Hawaiian surfer Joey Cabell and U.S. Navy man Buzzy Bent. Their first location was modest, with just a few tables in a converted diner. However, two principles present in 1961 remain staples of every Chart House location today – great food and equally impressive views.
Located in the historic (1763) Gardiner Building on Long Wharf, the Chart House restaurant has had great views of Boston and its Harbor since at least the 1970s. Read our blog for more history of the area and the building. The Chart House reflects one of the first culinary treats our CT has enjoyed since adolescence. A must for many local families, the restaurant has been synonymous with fantastic seafood, fine dining with a casual atmosphere, and superb service for many years. In my youth the Chart House was a summertime destination to end a day of celebration in our town. Having returned recently, the family tradition still rang true these 30 odd years later. No visit to Boston is complete without taking in the Chart House Restaurant, 60 Long Wharf, Boston, MA.
Since our last visit, the restaurant has had a restoration and its iconic memorabilia strewn brick walls and wooden halls are polished and posh, but the life and blood of this restaurant still holds: great seafood, great views and great friends. You may be arriving from the office, headed out for a night out on the town, or calling it a day from a trip along Boston’s iconic streets where history comes alive, but in this house its about the shared experience. Strangers feel comfortable to converse across the tables, local and tourists recount the days adventures while providing suggestions on what is the best dish or speculate on how the Team is going to do in the upcoming game over in the Fenns. If your not part of this mix then you are certainly caught viewing out the windows at Boston. But don’t get it wrong, when the main dish arrives all eyes are on the food experience.
The evening started off with Brian our server bringing out drinks. We were seated with a front row view to the kitchen and a landmark view of the Boston Custom House Tower. Brian brought forth two bowls of the Chart House Clam Chowdah. I use the New England slang as it is dutifully deserved. Their chowder is very traditional, with heavy cream, fresh clams, chunky potatoes, bacon (we’ll get to that later) and those iconic oyster crackers. The evening was experiencing a steady cool breeze off the Harbor and this Chowdah hit the spot for warmth and creaminess. Cooked perfectly overall, the clams were buttery soft and the potatoes were tender. True to New England customs, their Chowdah is a winner on the half shell. Every meal should start off this grand.
After a short interlude of convincing Brian and the rest of the staff that I knew what to do even though they offered a cracking service, our favorite little crustacean was served. The Chart House maintains a supply of various sizes but I will tell ya, a true pound and half-ah is perfect. Their lobster, served with a loaded baked potato dressed deliciously in the best potato skin-esque accouterments and drawn butter, is unmistakably the house specialty. Every ounce of this steamed New England tradition, was a far cry from its historical culinary roots. The chefs prepared this little guy to be succulent and tasty in of itself, far from needing the drawn butter. Someone may say “Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner”, I say that lobster was “Wicked Awesome!”. Hard shell as it was, it was easy to crack. After all was said an done, youthful memories were restored. Even though full I wanted another, and the couple next to us were impressed by the nimble cracking of this ocean treasure.
The CT’s wife opted for another traditional New England seafood entree, done anew by the Chart House chefs – Swordfish & Spatzle. This is a new signature dish comprised of a moist and tender grilled swordfish steak served over a caramelized onion bacon spatzle topped with a masala brown butter sauce. Even I had to note that it could rival the steamed delicacy I was having. The swordfish is platted with sweet potato spirals, seasoned with a fall package of tastes you cannot imagine. Though we’re concerned about sustainability of our global fish stocks here at CTKs, periodically splurging for a fish so well cooked is a treat beyond imagination. The tenderness of both the swordfish and the spatzle was sublime. Sometimes with fish you can get a dish that is partially cooled or dried out, not at the Chart House. Their tradition of perfectly cooked seafood timely brought to the table still holds true.
In addition to the great seafood and great ambiance, there is the service which is impeccable. Our server, Brian, was inviting, engaging and spot on with recommendations. Willing to lend a hand, I did note the cracking service provided, Brian helped out with photos and kept the evenings conversations rolling. We shared a life’s story of travel and found similar jaunts have been experienced. Brian became an extension of the staff and management, but also of the restaurant itself. If you go, consider yourself lucky to be among the best service staff in town.
Hanging out this evening was a treat, and the best way to complete three days of viewing, hearing, and tasting the history of Boston. The Chart House still holds those youthful memories within its brick and mortar, along with the history of this great Nation’s start. Very few locations exist where one can say they have dined where true Patriots once plotted and struggled for freedom and liberty. At the Chart House you can take in some history, the staff will treat you as long time friends flown in for a visit, and the culinary seafood traditions of this iconic city are carefully and meticulously prepared for you and your family.