Well I have never written a review of the Lido at Dolphin Bay because it had all of the makings of a fantastic restaurant … without the food, in my opinion. Partly because it was trying to be a little too “metropolitan” for the area, and partly because it ignored what is going on all around us — fantastic, fresh local ingredients.
So, with new executive chef Brian Collins (who we were lucky enough to be introduced to at Sunday Suppers at Los Alamos’ Full of Life Flatbread with Kari Ziegler of Gather Wine Bar), the restaurant has retained the breathtaking atmosphere but added a new menu to compliment it.
Most recently, visiting with new Rotary friends from the Bakersfield area, we enjoyed cocktails at the bar — I tried the Cucumber Melon Martini — yum. Refreshing start to our dinner!
We were escorted to our corner table over-looking the patio and Sunset over the Pacific. It was breathtaking … as we sat and enjoyed our meal, the darkness was replaced with a view in the other direction of the Dolphin Bay Pool complete with arching jets of colorfully-lit water — making it part pool, part fountain!
The menu holds so many absolutely delectable items that it was going to be difficult to choose until our very attentive and professional server (who I wish I was good enough to remember her name but sadly can’t) offered us the night’s specials. On that was a Hearst Ranch Grass Fed Rib Eye paired with a Lobster and Shrimp Risotto. Oh… My… G–! Since it was such a large entree each couple decided to split one and then add soups and salads … our friends had the sweet corn and gold zucchini soup which was garnished with creme fraiche — wow. A little taste of heaven. I noshed on a Windrose Farms Baby Lettuce Salad topped with local goat cheese and a tangy, yummy house vinaigrette. My husband had the Warm Spinach Salad with Duck Confit Vinaigrette, Wild Mushrooms and crowned with a Truffle-Poached Farm Egg. W-O-W. I had to try that egg. It was literally and visually perfect.
We all shared two fantastic bottles of wine from Tolosa and Tobin James Vineyards that we brought along with us, but the wine menu would have easily satisfied the most discerning guest with wide selections of local wines from both Santa Ynez and Paso Robles Wine Country. We retired to the outside patio and enjoyed the last of our wine and coffee, while sharing a the Creme Brulee and the Mocha Cheesecake — both were slices of heaven.
What impressed me most was the embrace and understanding this Chef has of the bounty all around us. It was wonderful to visit, and share with friends why we believe we truly do live in the “Happiest Place on Earth.” And while you may wonder why the four stars, I would say only that in this economy, the menu pricing is still not for the faint-of-heart. However they are trying to off-set that with a lovely happy hour that offers free pizzettas from 4-6 pm. We will try that next and I will give you an update!
2727 Shell Beach Road
Shell Beach, CA 93449