Melbourne Chart House – An oldie but very goodie

Once upon a time, we were excited by the arrival of a Chart House in Vero Beach.
We viewed the opening in the 1990s of a Chart House – an upscale seafood restaurant that can be found at two dozen dazzling seaside and waterfront locations on both the U.S. east and west coasts – as a sign that Vero had truly arrived.
But the Chart House on Royal Palm Pointe was ahead of its time. It never really caught on here. So now long gone, the nearest Chart House today is in Melbourne, where it has occupied a picturesque spot overlooking our Indian River Lagoon for 35 years.
Last Saturday, we made one of our infrequent pilgrimages to the Melbourne Chart House – and found it even better than when we first encountered it three decades ago.
Arriving 20 minutes ahead of our 7:15 reservation, we were nevertheless graciously and quickly seated in an otherwise packed restaurant.
Our table was one row removed from the huge windows, but virtually every table in the Chart House has a great view of the water.
Gerry, our very efficient server, quickly brought a basket of bread, and took our order for a bottle of Mer Soleil chardonnay.
While the Chart House still has an excellent salad bar (rekindling memories of the salad bar era of the ’80s), we decided to order salads and appetizers from the menu. For starters, our companion chose a Caesar salad ($8.50), I opted to try the gazpacho ($7.50), and my husband went for the lobster bisque ($8.50).
The Caesar salad was a classic rendition – crisp romaine, shaved Parmesan, croutons, anchovies –  and a very large portion, easily enough to be shared.
My gazpacho with sour cream was excellent, and my husband gave high marks to the Chart House’s lobster bisque, which was filled with nice chunks of lobster claw meat.
Then for entrées, I settled on the Atlantic grouper with a Veracruz topping ($40), my husband ordered the swordfish ($33), and our companion picked the savory shrimp pasta ($29).
The fresh grilled grouper was topped with a tomato-based sauce flavored with vegetables, olives and capers, and was accompanied by broccoli and a small pyramid of rice. My husband’s swordfish, simply grilled with olive oil, was perfection. And a large side of steamed asparagus ($4.99 up charge) was as tender and tasty as it gets.
Our companion’s savory shrimp pasta completed the trifecta of good entrées. The al dente pappardelle, in a butter and garlic sauce, would have been a fine dinner even without the delicious jumbo shrimp.
The Chart House has never been inexpensive.  Dinner for two with a modest bottle of wine is likely to come to $130 before tax and tip.
One of the changes over the years is the Melbourne Chart House now has an outside deck ideal for al fresco dining on fall or spring evenings. But whether you dine inside or out, or decide to pass up dinner and instead enjoy their Sunday brunch, we suspect you will thoroughly enjoy this oldie but goodie.
It’s only a 45-minute drive from Vero, but how we wish a Chart House was still there on Royal Palm Pointe.
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