The Lido at Dolphin Bay

The words we speak and think hold abundant sway over the kind of life that we create for ourselves. My life has changed prominently in the past year. I have become a dotting granny, an official (read paid) screenwriter and I am free of my retail chains. When it comes to holidays now, I tend to think outside the box, to focus on luxury and communion with friends. For the Fourth this year, I invited all my friends to a daylong food fest on the back deck of the Lido. The scenery is sweeping, the service sublime, but my main reason was try every dish from the new executive chef Brian Collins.

I have been in Brian’s fan club for a long time and used to drive the Los Alamos at least once a month for his Sunday Suppers. This man is a culinary genius and a local, so he understands the seasons, the finesse of the local farmers and the palate of the Californian. Brian worked with Alice Water and the many other Chefs at Chez Panisse, which was named the best restaurant in America in 2001. Then he spent 3 years with the magical hearth at Full Of Life Flatbread that was voted best restaurant in Santa Barbara in 2009 and 2010. The Lido is so lucky to have this virtuoso at their gastronomic helm.

My plucky friends came in shifts as we started at lunch on the back patio and planned to go until the fireworks roared over the bluffs. This property is breath taking and yet lends itself to the serious diner along side the family who just came up from surfing. Duck fat fried potatoes and Hearst Ranch Grass Fed Beef Hamburger made this lunch supreme. The hamburger came on a homemade bun with snappy pickles and startling flavor. When you use beef this good, it should be called an embellish hamburger. The fries where a symphony in sweet saltiness as everything tastes better when fried in duck fat, you must try it.

We brought a Morovino Pinot Grigio Rose (there is no corkage fee) to suppress the summer heat and it paired perfectly with the Bistro Menu. We shared the burrata stuffed and prosciutto wrapped artichokes, a brilliant combination of Italian flair with the California choke. The burrata (a mix of ricotta and mozzarella cheese) was made on a local farm and the prosciutto was cured at the Lido. Gary started with the Peach Sticky Buns, a sweet Bundt type cake with golden raisins, and glazed pecans swirling in the buttery cinnamon sauce. The peaches were marinated in the brown sugar glaze for over 24 hours and placed with a vanilla bean gelato. I could wake to this every morning, and Pasty chef Benjie Puga is still knocking desserts out of the park.

Our waiter Julian is a virtuoso in service and was never thrown by the ebb and flowing of our group and its needs. For dinner, I ordered for everyone and we all shared again. The Cayucos Abalone sitting on a bed of crispy pork belly with a brown butter sauce broke out the compliments. Every bite was perfection and even the micro greens sang with flavor. This was the best prepared abalone anywhere on the planet. Next we went for the Santa Barbara Halibut and Sea Urchin Crudo, this dish was breathtaking. Raw local halibut topped with fresh uni with a micro green and jalapeno radicchio topping. It was a dish that would have calmed Trident. Breathtaking, astonishing and simply delicious. The pan-fried fish and shell fish cake with a Meyer lemon and purplette scallions again danced across our palates. Grilled pancetta wrapped figs with shaved Sonoma Foie Gras defied all laws of gastric pleasure. The North Coast Wild Salmon with rose potatoes and marinated sungold tomatoes is a seasonal pleasure that must be sampled.

I would suggest that you try the Summer Tasting Menu as Brian knows how to throw the impeccable flavors together and you can do no wrong when this man is in the kitchen. It was one of my favorite days and I plan to repeat it as often as I can, you should to.

The chef was in excellent form, with cooking that not missing a beat in technical terms. From lovely Morro Bay oysters through to tender Rib Eye and even Crème Burlee, dish after classy dish emerged from the kitchen. Incidentals were strong too, with excellent bread and respectable coffee. The service was top class, the view breathtaking. A meal, a moment to be treasured forever. Thank you Lido.

The Lido Restaurant is located inside Dolphin Bay Resort at 2727 Shell Beach Road in Pismo Beach, call for reservations at 805.773.9800.