A dazzling new dining room -- even with those gaudy gold lips -- is a real upgrade to Chappell's Coral Grill in Covington Plaza.
Blackened salmon and Brussells sprouts at Chappell's Coral Grill in Covington Plaza.
Crab-stuffed triggerfish at Chappell's Coral Grill in Covington Plaza.
Lobster-crowned filet mignon at Chappell's Coral Grill in Covington Plaza.
The bottom of the triggerfish was burnt badly at Chappell's Coral Grill in Covington Plaza.
Creme brulee at Chappell's Coral Grill in Covington Plaza.
Key lime pie at Chappell's Coral Grill in Covington Plaza.
Chappell's Coral Grill in Covington Plaza.
Crab slaw at Chappell's Coral Grill in Covington Plaza.At left is the dinner portion vs. the tiny lunch portion at right.
The bar at Chappell's Coral Grill in Covington Plaza.
The salad bar at Chappell's Coral Grill in Covington Plaza is one of the best in town.
Beef shortrib poutine at Chappell's Coral Grill in Covington Plaza.
Shrimp and bay scallop pasta at Chappell's Coral Grill in Covington Plaza.
A casino oyster at Chappell's Coral Grill in Covington Plaza.
Sunday, October 08, 2017 1:00 am
Seafood restaurant renovates space, menu
RYAN DUVALL | The Journal Gazette
Out of a possible five
For being such a city staple, it is surprising how many changes Chappell's Coral Grill has had over the years.
It earned its fine reputation during its long run at 2723 Broadway in a spot that now houses Trubble Brewing. A second location sprouted up in DuPont Village in 2006 but did not last long.
Another try at a third locale, this time on Coldwater Road in an abandoned Joe's Crab Shack, was also short-lived. Then Chappell's left Broadway and headed to Covington Plaza, where it remains today.
But even that space has seen changes with an expansion and jazz club in 2013. The most recent change was a renovation of the restaurant – including the former club space – that began a year ago.
The results of that renovation are stunning. Black granite tables, chairs imported from Italy and gorgeous chandeliers still give it a very formal look, but one that is much more modern than it was before. The aged, cliché nautical fare that used to be the focus of its design is gone. Some leftovers of that old look – a giant shark and marlin, and an old wooden sailboat – still remain in the bar area, and there is an odd pair of giant gold lips in the fancy new dining room that look like they were lifted from a 1980s discotheque. But it is still a marked improvement.
The best piece of furniture in this new Chappell's is the giant salad bar that sits behind the wall holding those lips. It is probably the most impressive salad bar in town.
There was a ton to choose from, including four varieties of greens, two chicken salads, two herring salads and egg salad, and sliced almonds, crushed walnuts and candied pecans. But what made it really shine was the extra effort on some rather normal ingredients such as thinly slicing the cucumbers to make them easy to eat, having real finely crumbled bacon and finely diced (not whole slices) of pepperoni.
That brilliant bar was well worth the $3.95 I paid to add it to my lunch and would be a good choice at $10.95 as your only lunch option. It is also offered as your salad option with dinner entrées.
The lunch menu included some head-scratchers that just did not seem like logical choices at a place that has been known for its seafood for so long – chicken fingers, a ham melt and three types of burgers.
The lunch special shrimp and bay scallops pasta was delicious. It had plenty of the tiny little scallops and large shrimp that were coated in a rich, creamy sauce, along with primavera-style squash, spinach and red peppers (just one pepper sliver in mine, actually). It was very heavy and may have been better with a lighter, olive oil-based base, but it still satisfied.
My blackened Atlantic salmon lunch also had some flaws. The fish was cooked nicely, but I struggled to detect the blackening spices. It did not help that it was smothered in a way-too-thick layer of blue cheese-dill sauce. My side of Brussels sprouts, however, was perfect. Pan-fried so the outer layers were a little crisp and lightly tossed in bacon jam that simply flavored the little orbs, they were as good as they could be.
My side of crab slaw could only have been better if it had been bigger. At dinner, the serving size of this tasty, crunchy-sweet, dill-infused mix came on a small plate and was pretty generous. At lunch, I got about two bites in a tiny metal ramekin that most restaurants use for ketchup or tartar sauce.
There were some head-scratchers on the dinner menu, too, including Korean Beef Bulgogi Street Tacos and poutine. Both are somewhat trendy, but seem odd next to the crab cakes, sashimi tuna and shrimp cocktail, which I would expect at Chappell's.
The Beef Short Rib Poutine was poorly executed. It had way too much of its dark brown truffle demi-glace, which filled the bowl the French fries came in like a soup. That sauce had a salty, off-putting, processed flavor and had me expecting it was not house-made.
That processed beef flavor was also found in a pair of the soups I tried – Beef Bourguignon and Philly Cheesesteak. Both were pretty mediocre with the Philly being less obtrusive because its broth was cream-based with plenty of cheese and red and green peppers to offset it.
The best appetizer was my casino-style oyster, which was at just the right temperature and flavor.
Though I scoffed at the chicken fingers on the lunch menu, the Hoffman Farms Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Breast was my favorite entrée, which is not a good sign at a seafood place. It had a super crunchy crust and the salty pretzels nicely seasoned the dish. The Dijon cream sauce was just the right touch and I gobbled down every bite.
The Lobster-Crowned Filet Mignon was decent, but did not really blow me away. The menu said it was to be cooked in brown butter, but that butter was markedly spicy and overpowered the lobster. My server said it was a Cajun brown butter, which should have been noted on the menu description.
It was still better than the crab-stuffed triggerfish. This dish looked inviting with the thin fillets wrapped around the crab cake-like stuffing, but I could not get my fork all the way through the first bite. When I flipped the two football-shaped pieces over, I discovered why – the bottom was burnt and formed a thick black crust. What I was able to scrape off of that crust was OK and I liked the stuffing a lot, but was not happy a third of the dish was inedible.
I was also disappointed there were only two house-made desserts. The créme brûlée was OK, but the key lime pie was a bit too sweet and needed more citrus zing.
Address: 6328 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday; 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday
Cuisine: Steaks and seafood
Handicapped accessible: Yes
Alcohol: Full bar
Credit cards: Yes
Menu: Poutine ($10), casino oyster ($3 each), blackened salmon ($12.95), shrimp and scallop pasta ($14.95), pretzel chicken ($24), triggerfish ($29.95), lobster-crowned filet ($42.95), key lime pie ($5.95), créme brûlée ($6.95)
Rating breakdown: Food: * (3-star maximum); atmosphere: * (1 maximum), service: 1/2 (1 maximum)
Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; call at 461-8130. DuVall's past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.