Finding something besides fried seafood and burger restaurants along the Texas coast can be challenging, so we are thrilled to have found an alternative on the island of Key Allegro, Rockport, in the form of six-month-old Chartroom.
Executive Chef Chris Veatch (far right) and his team boast a serious experience level as well as degrees from the New England Culinary Institute and Le Cordon Bleu
Located in a scenic setting on the marina, Executive Chef Chris Veatch aims to provide a finer dining experience to the area. “Our menu is upscale American, using only fresh ingredients. Everything, including sauces, is cooked to order. Nothing is held over. Even our desserts are made in-house,” he reports. “The focus is fresh, Gulf Coast seafood, but we’ve also created some interesting meat and poultry dishes.”
Chris is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, and his team consists of a recent Le Cordon Bleu grad with 10 years of prior cooking experience and two local chefs who have worked in the top restaurants in and around the area. (One chef did time in Dallas at The Grape in the pre-Brian Luscher era.) “Staffing was our biggest challenge, and I’m really proud of the group we were able to get,” he says. “It’s a true team effort. All of our cooks have input on what goes on the menu.”
Chartroom’s offerings are diverse, yet focused. A recent Shrimp Scampi special is a winner as it features Jumbo “U-12’s” Shrimp basted in herb butter, onions, garlic, and lemon juice, toasted orzo pasta with balsamic roasted tomatoes and mushrooms, all served with grilled sourdough. Another standout is the Chili-rubbed pork tenderloin. The rub is a combination of guajillo chilis, chile de arbol, and brown sugar. The pork is topped with a tomatillo chutney and served over sautéed asparagus and aged Vermont white cheddar mac and cheese.
Chartroom provides many ways to order fish, but a recent favorite was the Pan-seared Drum with crab sautéed in white wine and topped with a dollop of avocado butter with cilantro and cumin. Citrus marinated cucumbers, squash, and peppers, along with cilantro basmati rice, accompany the dish.
Every restaurant includes the obligatory chicken entree, and Chartroom excels with their version. A large breast is sautéed and dressed with a Madeira pan sauce made with portabella mushrooms and peppers, while fresh seasonal vegetables and roast garlic mashed potatoes finish off the dish. This is a far cry from the typical, dry tasteless poultry option you’ve come to avoid at many places.
Salads do not disappoint. We sampled two on our recent visit and both excelled in presentation and taste. Sweet jumbo lump crab on a bed of spring greens came with just the right amount of herb vinaigrette, and a Bibb Lettuce with Prime Rib and Pancetta special was topped with cheddar and Swiss cubes, blue cheese crumbles, and house made ranch dressing. Each could be ordered as an entree for one or shared as an appetizer.
Chef Veatch has already begun hosting special wine dinners and hopes to do a new one every 30-45 days. Recently one revolved around wild game, and just after opening they did the eight-course First-Class menu from the Titanic on the night it sank.
Chartroom is nestled in the protective shores of Aransas Bay in the Key Allegro Marina. Just outside the dining room doors is their own bar called the “Grog Bar” that lists several specialty cocktails, wines, and beer. Diners that prefer a more casual setting can sit outside and order from the Chartroom menu. The restaurant itself is spacious and inviting, and, yes, aquatic charts from area waters adorn the walls, but the décor is clean and simple, allowing the gorgeous marine vistas to be the main focal point.
Chef Veatch’s goal is to provide area residents with a solid option for fine dining that offers quality ingredients, cooked to order, and superior service that people should expect from a restaurant of this caliber. So far his plan is working.
Chartroom is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11am till 9pm and Sunday from 10am till 9pm.Chartroom 39 Mazatlan Key Allegro, Rockport, Texas 361-790-2450