These started and ended lunch at the new Coastal Grill at the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort in Oxnard.
Opened in April, the restaurant is part of the resort's two-year, $17 million renovation project. Along with fellow food, wine and travel writers, I went there to taste from the menu introduced by executive chef Tim Hulbert.
The resort gets many visitors from Japan, Germany and England, to whom typical California food must seem exotic. Take, for example, Baja spring rolls (above) stuffed with chicken, corn, black beans and pico de gallo and accompanied by tomatillo salsa and a Southwest dipping sauce.
Wines accompanied each course. The best pairing, in my opinion, was A to Z Wine Works' 2012 Oregon Pinot Gris with the first course, lobster bisque (above).
His oven-roasted chicken (above) and grilled California halibut are fine, but what really gets attention is what he puts underneath--crisp-tender green beans and tri-colored Israeli coucous seasoned with onion and garlic and mixed with dried cranberries.
The halibut (above) gets a typical California topping--pesto and lime sauce. And probably no Californian has missed out on an Asian chicken salad. At the Coastal Grill, the chicken is tossed with greens, tangerine segments and a soy and sesame dressing.
The hotel is at the edge of a broad, uncrowded beach, a good place for a walk to work up an appetite. The lush landscaping (above) makes you think you have escaped to some tropical getaway, although you have driven only an hour from Los Angeles.