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Moonstone's chef Kevin Johnson with the oven-roasted half chicken, asparagus and quinoa pilaf.

Photo by Rocky Arroyo

Moonstone's chef Kevin Johnson with the oven-roasted half chicken, asparagus and quinoa pilaf.

Moonstone Grill (100 Moonstone Beach Road, Trinidad, 677-1616) is not a bad place to propose. The intimate dining room looks out onto Moonstone Beach for breathtaking sunsets. The seasonal local ingredients shine on a menu that's upscale but not fussy — worth the drive out even when the fog rolls in. Well-done classics, like the oven-roasted half chicken or the Dungeness salad fit nicely alongside clever appetizers like the roasted beet tower layered with chèvre and served over stripes of balsamic reduction and beet emulsion. Just remember to look up from your plate and out at the sea now and then.

Dungeness salad with bacon, avocado, grilled asparagus, heirloom tomatoes and scallion cream at Moonstone Grill. - PHOTO BY ROCKY ARROYO
  • Photo by Rocky Arroyo
  • Dungeness salad with bacon, avocado, grilled asparagus, heirloom tomatoes and scallion cream at Moonstone Grill.

The roasted beet tower  at Moonstone Grill. - PHOTO BY ROCKY ARROYO
  • Photo by Rocky Arroyo
  • The roasted beet tower at Moonstone Grill.

There are views in all directions from the terrace at the Benbow Historic Inn (445 Lake Benbow Dr., Garberville, 923-2124) — the trees, the storybook bridge over the Eel River and the grand old hotel itself. If you go before 3 p.m., you'll be in time for a plate of Nova Scotia lox Benedict with cold-smoked wild salmon, Hollandaise sauce and country potatoes with a Bloody Mary. At dinner get your salmon fix with the pan-seared steelhead salmon from the Columbia River, served over a pine nut risotto with baby arugula and blood orange. Whatever time of day, don't skip dessert or the wine list. The inn's won a Wine Spectator Award for Excellence for the last 15 years.

Benbow Inn's pan-seared steelhead salmon with pine nut risotto. - PHOTO BY AMY KUMLER
  • Photo by Amy Kumler
  • Benbow Inn's pan-seared steelhead salmon with pine nut risotto.

Nova Scotia lox Benedict and a Bloody Mary on the Benbow Inn's terrace. - PHOTO BY AMY KUMLER
  • Photo by Amy Kumler
  • Nova Scotia lox Benedict and a Bloody Mary on the Benbow Inn's terrace.

Cheesecake of the day at the Benbow Inn. - PHOTO BY AMY KUMLER
  • Photo by Amy Kumler
  • Cheesecake of the day at the Benbow Inn.

Two menus and plenty of windows on the bay mean there's something for everyone in your party at Bayfront Restaurant (1 F St., Eureka, 443-7489). Right on the waterfront overlooking the boats and the gulls, the restaurant features Italian and Japanese cuisine, including a teppanyaki grill. It's not that crazy. The grilled calamari steak is succulent, just barely seared on the grill and accompanied by avocado, olive oil and fresh herbs. From the Japanese menu, you can order sushi rolls at your table or sit at the bar and choose piece by piece. If you're not into Zen minimalism, the kaleidoscope roll has everything: spicy tuna, maguro, salmon, Hamachi, tempura shrimp, cucumber, avocado and tobiko, topped with swipes of spicy mayonnaise and unagi sauce.

The dizzying kaleidoscope roll at Bayfront Restaurant. - PHOTO BY ROCKY ARROYO
  • Photo by Rocky Arroyo
  • The dizzying kaleidoscope roll at Bayfront Restaurant.

Bayfront's grilled calamari steak drizzled with olive oil and herbs. - PHOTO BY ROCKY ARROYO
  • Photo by Rocky Arroyo
  • Bayfront's grilled calamari steak drizzled with olive oil and herbs.
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