by Damon Noisette // photo by Agnes Lopez
With the kickoff of Amelia Island Restaurant Week in January, the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island unveiled its newest dining option, Coast. While booking a table at Salt, the resort’s award-winning restaurant, is a pleasure most reserve for special occasions, Coast offers a Ritz culinary experience in a more accessible and casual setting.
The open dining room of Coast has undergone an understated transformation from its days as Cafe 4750, mirroring the recent interior updates across the property to a sleeker and more modern aesthetic. Deep blue, textured wall treatments behind the bar and on the back wall are reminiscent of the ocean waves just outside.
Chef Niko Anagnostou’s menu highlights the region’s seafood as well as land-based fare, and Coast’s small plates are nuanced and clever.
The addition of blue crab to the deviled eggs ($10) makes them three large bites of pure genius. And the shrimp fritters ($10), with Mayport shrimp, chickpeas, and fried golden brown, are a must before selecting an entrée. The most expensive item on the menu, the fresh seafood platter ($42) is built for sharing. A whole lobster shell sits on a bed of ice, splayed open and filled with a creamy lobster salad, beside oysters, Mayport shrimp and salmon tartare.
Coast’s chicken and waffles ($26) aren’t likely to be confused with what is considered the traditional preparation; it’s more fancy than Southern. Fried chicken breasts sit atop a single large waffle and are adorned with a green tomato jam, rosemary-bourbon glaze, and butter infused with honey from the Ritz’s own apiary. Like the chicken and waffles, the low country boil ($34) nails the flavors but is adapted for its resort audience, eschewing the usual messy, heap-of-seafood-and-corn-on-newspaper presentation for an individually sized portion in cast iron and cheesecloth.
The fresh pasta deserves consideration, especially the carbonara ($22). It’s a house-made fettuccine with chunks of pork belly, covered in fresh Parmesan cheese and topped with a 63-degree egg.
More than enough for a single person, though more like a decadent tease if shared, the trio sampler ($12) is three diminutive desserts: a salted caramel chocolate mousse, Florida orange cheesecake and a blackberry buttermilk panna cotta. I had the warm cinnamon sugar donut holes ($10) to myself and am convinced they are a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. They are served warm, as promised, with a chocolate sauce, raspberry compote and vanilla rum anglaise for dipping.
Open Daily: From an early breakfast to a late dinner, Coast is open all day, every day. The breakfast buffet runs from 6:30-11 AM (11:30 AM on Sundays).
Come As You Are: The restaurant has a casual, family friendly atmosphere. Terrace dining is available for patrons as well.
Easy Does It: Valet parking is free for restaurant guests. Reservations can be made by calling the resort or via OpenTable.
4750 Amelia Parkway, Amelia Island 277-1100; ritzcarlton.com