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Navio at Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay: Restaurant review

Perfect sunset view over the Pacific from Navio.
Perfect sunset view over the Pacific from Navio.Freddy Sherman

Navio, the restaurant at the amazing Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay (1 Miramontes Point Road, Half Moon Bay, California), sits overlooking the Pacific, just south of San Francisco. It provides fantastic ocean cuisine for Ritz-Carlton guests, locals and visiting foodies. Chef Kevin Tanaka and Executive Chef Xavier Salomon combine locally sourced ingredients with fresh seafood from all over the world to deliver a culinary experience that matches the epic sea views.

The space is contemporary and stylish yet comfortable. It welcomes large groups easily and also works well for romantic encounters. It's very well designed and hosts business people in suits alongside families fresh in from a day at the beach. Service is personal and attentive, a benefit of being part of Ritz-Carlton.

First out at dinner was an amuse bouche, a surprisingly spicy and delicious corn soup. The soup was spiced up by a pickled jalapeno emulsion, joined with espellette oil and a sweet pepper relish. A great flavor combination and a great start to the meal. Next up was some cobia, a fish from panama. This was lightly seared and served with a Green Goddess puree, Meyer lemon jalapeno, Cara Cara orange slices, kiwi relish and watercress. Meyer lemons are used frequently on the menu, they are like a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange with both sweet and sour tones.

Our next choice was lobster bisque, made with Ogunquit, Maine lobster salad served on a baguette crostini served over a bowl of saffron creme with tarragon oil. A unique take on this classic dish, almost a deconstructed version of lobster bisque.

Clam fettuccine was up next, made with house-smoked pasta, vine-ripened tomatoes, locally-grown Daylight Farms arugula and Parmesan cheese. This was a delicious combination and the smoked pasta had a very unique (in a good way) taste. The Aqua Gem clams were incredibly fresh and delicate. Aqua Gem are farm-raised clams from Florida and are becoming quite popular on foodie menus.

The mains followed, first with a grilled wild King salmon filet, served with a spicy Madras curried farro (a grain), Japanese eggplant, Meyer lemon and a Picholine olive tapanade. The salmon was thick, fresh and tasty, grilled to perfection. The spicy farro was a good pairing, like an exotic rice. An eight-ounce BRANDT Farms grilled filet mignon was next, served with Yukon gold potatoes, a horseradish onion marmalade and Cipollini onions all in a port wine sauce. The steak was good but not quite cooked the way I had ordered it. Last up was the 48-hour braised short rib, a house special. This was light and falling off the bone, just a succulent dish to enjoy. It was served with sweet corn and chanterelle mushroom ragout, along with arugula pesto, pickled blueberries all in a Bordelaise sauce. Just a great dish and the corn and pickled blueberry combination was especially delicious.

Dessert came to close the meal, first with a caramelized Meyer lemon Chiboust, a creamy tart served with strawberry rhubarb sorbet and a berry meringue. The Chiboust was unique with the rhubarb flavor, which is on the tart side. The closing act was a deconstructed s'more, served with house-made marshmallows, fluffy chocolate clouds and honey cinnamon ice cream. What a great combination of sweet flavors which did replicate the classic s'mores taste, just without the firepit. The s'more is very popular at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay as some rooms and suites come with patios and firepits and those rooms and suites also come with a s'more making kit. As this is the Ritz-Carlton, the s'mores kits are from famed San Francisco chocolatier Michael Recchiuti.

Read more about the author's roadtrip to Half Moon Bay on his blog, luxuryfred.com.