By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
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Richard Chamberlain is the type of food pro who has a history studded with jewels. Starting with proletariat food training at El Centro College, Chamberlain went on to apprentice at the Mansion on Turtle Creek. He was credited with developing a cuisine christened American alpine cooking while in Aspen, was executive chef at the defunct San Simeon from 1986 to 1989, had a fling as executive chef at Ratcliff's and did rounds as executive sous chef at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles and at Dean Fearing's Agnew's. To top off his résumé, Chamberlain has a reputation in Dallas as a consummate gentleman and a generous businessman who keeps himself beyond reproach.
Yet somehow it's odd that a guy versed in giving birth to new cuisine should position himself atop a heap of steak, a dish that requires more raw brawn than imaginative flair. While Chamberlain has earned a fortune from Chamberlain's Steak and Chop House, a spot he opened in 1993 in an Addison slot that used to be a Del Frisco's, there must be more to Chamberlain's life than dripping prime beef washed down with obnoxiously expensive red wine. There must be, because Chamberlain has taken the cash bled from his prime beef and plowed it into fish.
This may sound like an odd tinkering at first, but it really isn't. Chamberlain's Fish Market Grill, just down the street from his meat emporium, is fashioned out of a former Grady's. It's been redone in rich, masculine duds, so it feels a lot like a steakhouse, except there are more lights, so you can sit down at your table without baptizing your loafer tassels with gin fizz. From the ceiling hangs a wooden grid contraption, a decorative touch perhaps designed to camouflage the ventilation and conduit spaghetti every other restaurant likes to flaunt. There's brass ornamentation by the black-upholstered booths, hardwood flooring, brick arches and a raised dining area off the main dining space. In front of the bar is a ledge holding various fish and seafood boils and sprinkles and sauces and treatments. Just beneath that is a crushed ice floe with posing lobsters.
4525 Belt Line Road
Addison, TX 75001
2821 Turtle Creek Blvd
Dallas, TX 75219
Region: Uptown & Oak Lawn
Gumbo (cup): $3.25
Appetizer combo: $8.95
Bluepoints (6): $9.95
Chilean sea bass: $21.95
Crispy live Maine lobster: $49.88
Mango crisp: $5.95
Chamberlainís Steak and Chop House, 4525 Belt Line Road, Addison, 972-503-3474. Open 5-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 5-10:30 p.m. Saturday; 5-9 p.m. Sunday. $$$.5330 Belt Line Road, Addison, 972-934-2467. Open 5-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 5-10:30 p.m. Saturday; 5-9 p.m. Sunday. $$$
Appetizer combo: $8.95
Bone-in rib eye: $28.95
Surf ín turf: $29.95
Bananas Foster: $5.50
Chamberlain's poses them in lots of different ways. You can have plain steamed lobster; lobster Newberg with Madeira wine, shallots and cream; flame-broiled Australian lobster tails; and crispy lobster oriental, fried with ginger garlic and soy. Our waiter warned us that the oriental version might muff the rich succulence and flavor of the fresh meat, but it sounded too funky to pass up. It arrived in a strangely morbid pose. Spherical ingots of lobster meat, crusted in coating, soaked in the soy-ginger-garlic complex, were tucked into the underside of a lobster husk. It was slit from throat to tail flap. Long strands of antennae coiled around one edge of the plate. Meat culled from the claws were virtually the only oddly shaped pieces in the whole body casement. After biting into it, you could make out the red stains on the muscle pulled from the pincher.
The crispy coating wasn't as distracting as I had anticipated, but the sauce was--a viscous fluid that fogged the natural sweetness of the meat. If this sauce were toned down and pulled back a bit, it might make this a worthy lobster treatment. Otherwise, this is a fascinating twist on boiled lobster bodies plundered with crushers and forks and dipped in drawn, lemon-spiked butter.
Other seafood treatments worked respectably, too. Louisiana gumbo with smoked duck, crawfish and shrimp was a dark, forbidding pottage that had a good, dirty concentrated flavor with lots of meat fragments and punchy spice, though it was hard to pick up any duck smoke.
At least two varieties of oysters are offered on the menu. On our visit it was Louisiana Gulf and bluepoints, the latter being cool and clean and dressed with either a complement of lemon wedges or a ramekin of cocktail sauce.
The appetizer roster is ho-hum. Crab cakes with Tabasco aioli were a little soggy and oily and lacked rich crab flavor. Deep-fried calamari rings, also beaded with Tabasco aioli, were greasy and waxy. Chilled jumbo shrimp were fine, though there wasn't much there to inspire a round of funky prose. By far the best appetizer on the list was the house smoked salmon draped on grilled flat bread and topped with red onion threads, capers and chive crème fraiche. The smoke taste was assertive, but not so punchy that it knocked out the rich salmon flavor, and the onions and capers defogged the tongue so it wouldn't get clouded over by the smoke and salmon fat.
Fresh fish selections are scratched out on a chalkboard hung on a wall in the front of the restaurant. This is also where a list is posted of the fresh fish you can purchase and bring home. But as a fresh fish market, Chamberlain's isn't exactly a walk through the mall, or even a 7-Eleven. The fish is sold from a cart, a waiter told us, back in the kitchen. So there really isn't a chilled case you can browse through before you have the monger cut and wrap.