Chappell's Coral Grill & Seafood Market
2723 Broadway,
Fort Wayne, IN 46807
260) 456-9652

This restaurant does not have a website - really?? It's 2010 - electronic media and social networking are "The Way" of marketing in the present. So for starters - get into the 21st century! That said, comments posted on a variety of general restaurant review sites are quite negative and may derail your desire to try Chappell's. Having just experienced Chappell's first hand - I found those reviews to be spot on!

Let's jump right in . . .

Outside -

There is a delightfully large outside eating area which might be lovely in the warmer weather; however, who wants to sit in the ghetto as music blaring hoop-ties pass? Also, there appear to be 2 doors - is one to enter the market and one to enter the restaurant? Which one do you use? It's a pretty sorry state when it's not obvious how to get inside - - - try a welcome mat or an enter here sign! (fyi - enter through the northern door)

Once inside -

You enter the market which has at least 10 seafood items sitting on ice - wooo, the inventory will just overwhelm you . . . I mean UNDERWHELM you! Add the "stink" of a fish market right off the bat - well, a good time is surely to be had by all!

Hostess -
The hostess actually ran outside to lead us in the correct door then she sat us at a lovely booth away from other dinners - oh wait, during our 4 hour visit (5 p.m. - 9 p.m. on a Thursday evening) there were only 3 other couples. We were told it was due to the Tin Caps Openning game and spring break (I'm not buying it - baseball attendees aren't the target audience for this restaurant). The hostess, Lauren, was also our server - our bartender - our water refiller - our expediter - our buser - and I saw her in the back cleaning. At 5:30 p.m. apparently another Lauren came into work as the hostess - didn't see her but once. Some of the reviews discuss slow service - ummm, when there's one person running the ENTIRE show, YEAH! Lauren did alright. She was honest, polite, and did the best she could. She wasn't the best or worst we have ever had.

Decor -
Quaint is the perfect word to sum up the coastal charm of Chappell's interior.

A word of caution - if you are taller than 5'6" you may smack your head on any of the dozens of nails that are sticking out about 2 inches along the trim just above the wainscoating. Surely the nails are used for holiday decorations??? Shouldn't there be a rubber cap on the ends to protect your customers? Or better yet - have you heard of command adhesive - it's removable!

Atmosphere -
Many posted reviews mention the dim lighting -yep, agreed. If you have difficulty reading a menu in low light - pack a flashlight. On the music note - it was 50's big band type and was annoyingly loud (especially given that at any one time there were only 5 customers eating). As was the case at Catablu Grill, there was a misplaced large flat screen television front and center in the main dining room. Why is it there? Is the food so lousy and the service sooooo slow that you have to supplement it with the Fox News Network (seriously - turn that crap off!). People go out to each at high end restaurants to get away from the drama the outside world beats us down with day in and day out. Unplug the tv and allow us eat in peace. If the tv is so important, put it in the 3 table bar area or stick it out in the market area. It was obnoxiously obtrusive!

The details -
Entrees at this restaurant run $20-$40 so one would have some expectations about the small details. Restaurants of such status always have cloth table linens perhaps with butcher block paper or glass on top to keep cost down - but not at Chappell's - they have vinyl. The use of cocktail napkins under $8.00 martinis is pretty standard - but at Chappell's - NOTHING! Water is generally served in some type of stemware goblet - but at Chappell's you get a glass version of a bible school kool-aid cup.

Drinks -
Frequent readers know how we feel about having a Martini and being able to "study" a martini menu. Although they didn't have an official menu that everyone could read, Lauren had a printed copy for her reference that she left with us for a little while. With martini's as bad as the ones at Chappell's, not having an official martini menu probably means customers should just skip them. At $8.00, one has expectations for alcohol content and for taste explosion - these fell far far far far far short!!!!!! They were exactly what you would find at the Aboite Grill on Martini Mondays - unsophisticated and average at best! Additionally, they were out of several ingredients and were unable to make more than 1/2 of there already short and uninspired martini list - apparently because they had a big party a few nights prior. Here's a suggestion to the staff - restock!!!! I had a blue fire something - pretty, but nearly tasteless. Adams L had a chocolate martini - she felt the alcohol a bit, but the best part of her drink was that it was pretty. Allen L chose a lemon drop (sorry, no pix of that one).

Bread -
YUM!!! A Winner!!

Menu -
It's not lengthy. It's just 2 pages. The wine menu is longer than the food section - really???? What's up with that!

Appetizers & Sides -
We started with bruschetta and crab cakes (no one is surprised by that - if it's served at the restaurant, we simply MUST try them). The 3 slices of goat cheese bruschetta wasn't great. In fact, the high piling of tomatoes was more than I could enjoy. The other L's disliked the over-the-top pungent smearing of goat cheese.

The $15 crab cake appetizer featured ONE small/medium sized cake and came with tartar sauce. What!!! The other L's thought it was great and had a good flavor from the spices. As for me - nope, didn't hit it for me. There were no large (or medium size for that matter) pieces of crab and the tartar sauce was just an unpleasant compliment to the cake. It wasn't the worst crab cake, but I would not waste my money on it again.

Our entrees came with sides. I chose the side salad with the House dressing - wow, it was amazing!!!!! I would definitely order that in a larger size. It's not terribly different than you would get at the Olive Garden, though.

Allen L got something deliciously different - crab slaw! Although a bit tangy, it was really good. Even though I completely dislike cole slaw, I found this crab slaw to be very pleasant!

Entrees -
Allen L and I ordered the Canadian Walleye. We both chose the sauteed asparagus. The piece of fish was thick, large, and worth the $20 price. The breading was rather thick and ruined the overall entree. The asparagus was tasty but a bit overdone.

Adams L chose a chicken and shrimp salad with the house dressing on the side. It was beautifully served. There was ample chicken, but only 3 shrimp. She said it was fantastic and needed a "to go" box as the portion size was generous.

Dessert -
A former employee makes their desserts from scratch and delivers them once a week (once a week - is that fresh enough?). Definitely worth the $4.50-$6.00! Portion sizes were ample and the presentation was creative. I enjoyed the white cake with butter cream frosting served with stripes of raspberry sauce and white frosting hearts. The moist cake melted in my mouth! Allen L had homemade Key Lime Pie presented on a plate painted plaid with precise dots and lines. She said she could tell it had homemade key lime filling. She made a good point - how about a garnish of a twisted lime peel on top??? The Adams L had a piece of carrot cake served with a frosting painted carrot on the plate - cute! Adams L said the carrot cake was dry and not worth the calories.

Restroom -
OMG!!!!!!!!! There are NO words to describe how horrible it was. Again, with $20-$40 entrees, one has a certain expectation!!! Think restroom at a greasy mom-pop diner - then think step below. It easily looked as if it were the staff's restroom! The grout was old and dirty (GROSS!). The light switch is on the outside of the room. I had to refill the toilet paper roll by going under the sink to find some. It was not unclean - so at least it had that going for it. Do not take a female to this restaurant if you are trying to impress her- if she has to use the restroom, it will be a deal breaker for sure!!!! I couldn't even take a pix because it was just too terrible!!!!!!!!!!!

Final thoughts -
Stay home or go to Paula's instead! We won't be back! Since Chappell's has strong competition for the consumer dollar - they really should consider some strong marketing such as coupons - offer a free dessert, or 20% off, or even buy one get one free dinner.

Until the next bite -

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