Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 21st
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Cuisine With A View

dining highexteriorNearby—and perfect for a staycation getaway—the Carmel Hyatt Highlands charms with its world-class food, wine and more 

Situated in a magical spot on the California coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the stunning Carmel Hyatt Highlands offers the guest much more than simply an upscale place to stay.

Here is a little corner of heaven where one can relax in absolute comfort—completely taken care of by the gracious staff. On checking into the hotel, one is immediately impressed by the welcoming warmth, the beauty of the property and the panoramic vistas offered from almost every location in the hotel.

The Carmel Hyatt Highlands, a Hyatt Vacation Club Resort property, offers luxurious rooms, unparalleled service and world-class food.

Pacific’s Edge, the hotel’s award-winning glass-walled restaurant with stunning ocean views of the Big Sur coastline, has been rated one of the top 100 restaurants in the United States by Zagat, and has consistently received AAA four-diamond awards for its outstanding cuisine. Executive Chef Matt Bolton has planned a very impressive menu of contemporary American selections—carefully focusing on the freshest local ingredients, meats and seafood—with a hand-picked daily fish feature.

As a lover of all seafood, I found a plate of Yellowfin Tuna Tartare ($17) as a first course to be incredibly delicious. Served with jalapeño-lime aioli, toasted brioche and wakame, the chef has elevated this mélange of flavors beyond the usual – with an interesting subtly sweet taste from the deep-green wakame seaweed. Yellowfin Tuna is also served as a main course ($34), as well as a Maine Dayboat Scallop dish ($38), Atlantic Black Bass ($42) and a vegetarian Wild Mushroom Ravioli ($24).

For meat lovers, there is Colorado Rack of Lamb ($57); Filet Mignon ($42); a Bone-In Rib Chop ($55) weighing in at a hefty one pound, and more. My dining companion enjoyed a perfectly prepared Berkshire Pork Chop ($38), a 10-ounce wonder served with Granny Smith apple puree.

Side dishes are imaginative offerings such as wild mushrooms, herb risotto, Anson Mills polenta and seasonal fresh vegetables.

Pastry chef Gina Scalla came over to our table with mouthwatering descriptions of her concoctions, including her Berry Shortcake ($11) was absolute heaven. Served with blackberry-cabernet consommé, Marcona almond, pink peppercorn, cinnamon streusel, buttermilk ice cream—it can only be described as utter ambrosia and a decadent treat for the palate.

With wine director Paul Fried overseeing the vast selection of wines from all over the world, one has incredible choices that only a high-end establishment such as this provides. With everything from the finest French champagnes to some of the best California wines available, Fried has put together an eclectic wine list to satisfy every taste. A sommelier is always on hand to offer professional help with choosing the right wine to go with each dish.dining highex2 

The Sunset Lounge, which opens daily at 3:30 p.m., offers a smaller menu and tapas—just perfect to have with a cocktailor a glass of wine from the full bar. Dessert, too, is available in the lounge after 5 p.m. What could be nicer than a slice of strawberry-rhubarb shortcake and a glass of champagne as you take in the spectacular views of Point Lobos State Reserve.

For a more casual setting, the California Market offers the diner an al fresco experience, or the cozy interior warmth of a rustic bistro. Here is where you choose from a delightful array of breakfast items or gourmet sandwiches for lunch. Seafood and daily specials are offered, too. On those chilly Monterey Bay days, this is a wonderful spot to huddle around the pot-belly stove with a steaming bowl of soup or a robust cup of coffee and a Danish pastry.

A heated outdoor pool is just what’s needed for a brisk dose of exercise, or you can take a spin on the lifecycles in the fitness room before relaxing in one of the three whirlpools.

This is a place where you can pamper yourself to the max, enjoy some world-class food and wine, take in an abundance of fresh coastal air, and experience some of the best scenery on earth —all at the same time. 

Carmel Hyatt Highlands, 120 Highlands Drive, Carmel, (831) 620-1234,

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