At Enchanted Garden, guests are treated like royalty, with meals to match
Enchanted Garden Seafood and Steakhouse3312 The Esplanade
Chico, CA 95973
Tales of delicious entrées and exquisite service, combined with a glum chum desperately needing to be taken to dinner, led me to wander through the woods and down The Esplanade to Enchanted Garden Seafood and Steakhouse.
Formerly The Albatross, the restaurant features a unique layout, complete with various dining rooms (named after flowers), and patio seating. Owner Steven Yu renovated the restaurant before opening in December and has created an environment that is romantic and elegant.
Upon arriving, we were treated like honored guests. As soon as our feet touched the top step, the door was opened for us, and we were politely ushered inside and seated in the Rose Room. The only difference among the dining rooms are the varieties of flowers gracing the table; the carnation and lily rooms feature carnations and lilies, respectively, while our table was graced by a red rose. Enjoying the live music (good jazz and a female vocalist), we perused the menu.
While the escargot-stuffed mushrooms ($14) and mushroom and veggie ravioli ($10) sounded promising, we sampled the deep-fried coconut prawns ($12)—amazingly tender jumbo prawns coated in coconut, served with sweet and sour sauce—and the Dungeness crab cakes ($10), served with horseradish aioli.
The prawns were perfect, but the crab cakes, while delicious on the inside, had seemingly been cooked in burnt grease, and the burnt flavor unfortunately permeated the gentle crab meat, overwhelming even the aioli. We moved on to soups and salad. I chose the bowl of New England clam chowder ($8), and while it was good soup, it wasn’t quite worth the high price tag.
The salad bar, which for some reason has met its end at many establishments, has been reinvented by Enchanted Garden to great success; options such as dried cherries and candied walnuts mingle with the traditional salad fare in the stocked bar.
We chose two standards for dinner, Atlantic salmon filet ($21) and filet mignon ($28). The grilled salmon, served with roasted red and yellow peppers and green beans, is complemented by the white rose potato purée. The mashed potatoes with a touch of rosewater add an eloquent touch to this standard dish. The filet mignon, even well done, is what a foodie friend of mine calls “meat chocolate"—so tender it melts in your mouth.
On a return visit, I sampled the chicken piccata ($18) served with rosemary potato purée. Chicken in piccata dishes is generally butterflied, or pounded to a thin filet, but here it was simply a thick chicken breast. A bit dry, it would have benefited from the customary preparation.
The service is top notch and attentive, to the point of obsession. There’s a large staff; it’s quite possible there was a one-to-one ratio of servers to diners that night.
I went back for brunch, served on Sundays. Brunch is served buffet style, and ample food and drink for $12 is quite a bargain. If tipsy by lunch is what you want to be, then $16 is a fair price to pay.
That morning fruit, yogurt, green salad and cheesecake were offered at the salad bar. And along with chafers of roasted potatoes, fish in white sauce, chicken in spicy red sauce, French toast, bagels, English muffins and toast, a chef stood by, ready to carve up some ham and cook eggs to our liking. The omelets were outstanding, as was the rest of our early meal.
The only change I would make to the Enchanted brunch buffet would be adding some placards describing the food in the chafers; it’s always nice to know what you’re eating and not have to interrupt a busy server to find out.
Comparatively, dinner at Enchanted Garden is expensive, but rest assured you’ll be treated like royalty in a fairy tale from the moment you walk through the door (which they’re holding for you). The ambience, the upscale menu (cognac crème brulée!) and service will surely impress your date.