Marisol at the Cliff’s

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Sometimes a restaurant and I have to break up. It is for the best, as it forces me to seek out new exceptional places to dine on a regular basis. I am ecstatic to re-find Marisol at the Cliff’s. I spend many weekends sitting in the sun on the deck absorbing tequila and taking in the breath taking sights. Located in posh Shell Beach, this stunning restaurant not only features incredible ocean views, fun happy hours, but also an extraordinary restaurant. Chef de Cuisine, Gregg Wangard, has created a tremendous menu with original offerings using the area’s freshest and preeminent produce and proteins.

I was told that I would be getting a special treat prepared by Chef Wangard, by manager David Klien, and I was excited to try everything. Our waitress, Spring was a joy, pairing each course with a fantastic wine (and I am not ashamed to say that is was pretty cool that the Chef delivered our remarkable selections and explain each ingredient). The strolling songbird (Carole McNeil) was a fantastic addition and her playlist was prodigious. We started with a bit of Leticia XD bubbly, an exclusive sparkling wine only offered at the Cliff’s.

The triumph of any feast is the quality of food served, this meal exceeded in every approach. I started with the Sweet Potato Soup, a triumph in a bowl with a tad of surprises. Sweet and hardy with a bit of pecans and maple bacon bits floating made this bisque sublime. Gary started with Willie’s Chocolate Dream Stout Cake a daring combination of Napa Smith Oatmeal Stout beer and cocoa. It was served with a tangy mango sorbet that rested on a bed of graham crackers so it wouldn’t melt as fast (brilliant). Gary declared this the best chocolate cake ever and proved that declaration by coming back two times the next week for another slice.

Chef told us the menu is new each Friday, focusing on seasonal items. We each had the Big Eye Tuna Sashimi that was thinly sliced and resting on even thinner carved cucumber curls. Small sections of pink grapefruit adorned the corners with a jalapeno juice drizzling throughout with fiery surprises. Simply delicious paired with the Still Water Pinto Grigio. Our next delight was the best darn spinach salad this girl has ever had. The spinach was so fresh; you could tell they were straight from the fields of Windrose Farms. Chef explained this as a combination of Old and New world with the croutons fried in bacon grease. These were so good, I made the waitress try them and then run to the kitchen and tell Greg, my mouth just had a religious experience. The salad had shredded boiled eggs, Italian chesses, and onions throughout. If this is diet food, I am officially going on one.

Our main course was a petite filet from 43 Ranch and was cooked to perfection, sitting on a bed of purple potatoes. Topped with sautéed onions, mushrooms, and a blue cheese sauce that reminded me why I love this chef so much and feel that he has not gotten his due respect of coverage. Brilliant, inspired and delicious with a 2008 Chehalem Pinot to wash each delectable bite down.

Greg is originally from Wisconsin and shared with us his pick for the “Best Cheese in America” a triple cream raw milk delight called Rush Creek Reserve made by Upland Cheese Company. Rush Creek Reserve is inspired by the French Vacherin Mont d’Or, and is bound in spruce bark, which gives shape to the soft round and imparts a sweet, woodsy flavor to the cheese. This is the Cristal of cheeses and Greg served it with drunken cherries and an inimitable biscotti. An outstanding performance by both food and staff by the Marisol, I am their new regular.

This meal was so noble; we brought friends back on Wednesday to try the bistro menu (the full dinner menu like we tried is available Friday thru Sunday). We all ordered different entrees and shared each dish. We tried the Caramelized Onion Soup with Grand Cru Gruyere cheese and thyme croutons, the Coconut Fried Shrimp with a pineapple guacamole and sweet chile sauce, and the Beef Sliders with a pesto aioli, farmhouse cheddar all topped with a giant onion ring and accompanied with outstanding truffle-parmesan fries. All were excellently cooked, a unique blending of flavors and masterly presented. Gary had more of Willies Chocolate cake and the See Canyon Apple Fritters.

The service was impeccable, the food outstanding and we all vowed this would be our regular hang out each weekend. Marisol has it all, a lively bar, beautiful views of the ocean and a five star dining experience that rivals big city restaurants. Marisol is located at the Cliff’s Hotel at 2757 Shell Beach Road, call for reservations at 773-2511.