Best of all she steered me away from the popular but pedestrian appetizer I'd chosen to a truly delicious dish I'd never have picked on my own, lobster spring rolls. While I love whole lobster, it's all too often disappointing in multi-ingredient dishes where it's not the star; in supporting roles, it's usually served undersized and overcooked, so I assumed that the purpose of these rolls' lobster would be, as usual, to enhance upscale image rather than taste. Not so. The four stylishly slant-cut though substantial rolls were packed with Maine lobster meat -- like whole claws, as well as huge hunks of tail. Additionally the pastry shell was crisp rather than tough like many Chinese eatery egg rolls; the shredded vegetables were fresh, avoiding all odor of overcooked cabbage; and the accompanying mustard sauce managed to be simultaneously subtle and a real eye (and sinus) opener.
My other appetizer choice, calamari, was also good, in a very light and nongreasy batter served with a Thai chili/citrus sauce that had enough heat but could have used a bit more tang, in a quantity sufficient to feed the state of South Dakota.
A meal with a view, and maybe some roast beef and jumbo crabcakes
305-856-9741. Open Monday to Saturday 5:00 to 11:00 p.m., Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (brunch), 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Most diners seemed to stick with just the Chart House's salad bar for starters, and it certainly makes financial sense to pay $4.95 (the bar's price with entrée; it's $10.95 as an entrée) rather than $4.50 for an á la carte caesar salad, especially since the caesar is limp and overdressed and available on the bar. But be warned: The salad bar is mostly mediocre filler -- cottage cheese, mayonnaise-heavy potato salad, the rest of the usual suspects; lumpfish "caviar" is as good as it gets.
There are a number of desserts, but what everyone orders is the hot chocolate lava cake, which was not so much a cake as a construction project: layers of molten-centered chocolate cake filled with Godiva chocolate liqueur, vanilla ice cream (Edy's, not housemade), nut buttercrunch, and chocolate sauce. This dessert must be ordered prior to dinner, to give the chef time to run next door to Coconut Grove's town hall for a building permit. Okay, kidding, but seriously, do not tackle this item alone.