Tanglewood restaurant represents the best of dining, combining creative cuisine with attentive service in a relaxing yet elegant atmosphere.

One of two restaurants at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort, Tanglewood is one of the best-kept secrets in local fine dining. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Tanglewood is a favorite of resort guests but little known among Estero residents.

It’s time for that to change. Tanglewood recently launched a new dinner menu that rivals any fine-dining establishment in the area, including its sister restaurant, Tarpon Bay (featured in our September 2012 issue), which often steals the Hyatt’s dinner crowd, opening at 5:30 every evening and offering succulent seafood cuisine.

Tanglewood Chef Jamie Celaya has worked hard to refresh his restaurant’s offerings, bringing an emphasis on healthful, Mediterranean-inspired fare.

“We had to get away from baked potatoes and mashed potatoes every day,” he says. The Hyatt corporation has adopted a restaurant philosophy: “Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served.” 

Celaya was challenged to create dishes using as many locally sourced and sustainably farmed ingredients as possible. He has toured several local farms, scrutinizing the origin of all his fresh products. The fruits and vegetables incorporated into Tanglewood’s elegant dishes vary seasonally, ensuring the best flavor and nutritional benefit while limiting the restaurant’s carbon footprint.

Celaya recently received a shipment of wild green onions – which was fortunate for us, as it inspired him to concoct a new dish, an Asian green onion consommé with pork dumpling, pickled mushrooms and fried leeks. 

While you can’t find this on the dinner menu, you will find plenty of other palate pleasers. Celaya has incorporated influences from Spain, France and Italy to create elegant and flavorful meals.

We began our evening with a “small bite” to whet the appetite. The chef presented a pan-seared sea scallop paired with savory, crusty pancetta, served over truffle cauliflower puree and garnished with lemon-dressed pea tendrils.

Next, our party of four shared the White Flatbread, featuring local heirloom tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, parsley, micro-basil, ricotta and parmesan cheese. Those with food allergies will be glad to know this flatbread is gluten-free. The staff at Tanglewood will tailor menu items to meet any special dietary needs.

Before our main course arrived, we enjoyed two of the restaurant’s creative salads. The Roasted Hearts of Palm stars two classic Florida crops, oranges and palm cabbage. Attractively plated over baby arugula and paired with avocado slices, toasted almonds and roasted tomato vinaigrette, this salad is a refreshing starter.

The Arugula Salad with Roasted Stone Fruit also features fresh, seasonal offerings, varying among whichever pitted fruit is ripe and ready. Our salad starred the peach, delightfully paired with Turtle Creek goat cheese, topped with toasted pine nuts and drizzled with lemon vinaigrette.

For our entrees, two of us chose Tanglewood’s premier dinner selection: the Steak and Crab Diane. A juicy, all-natural 10-ounce strip steak is paired with a meaty crab cake, accompanied by fingerling potatoes creamed spinach. The real magic is in the zippy Diane sauce, a creamy dijon reduction sauce with mushrooms, shallots, beef stock and brandy. 

While most historians attribute the name to the Roman “goddess of the hunt” Diana, our server, Rich, wove a much more colorful tale about a legendary brothel owner named Diane who was famous among pirates for her cooking. Wherever the name originates, Diane certainly knows how to make a mean steak sauce!

Others in the group tried the Broiled Florida Grouper (with seasonal vegetable ragout and roasted tomato vinaigrette) and the Seared Diver Sea Scallops (served over eggplant puree with cucumber-apricot salsa),and both were scrumptious.

For dessert, we sampled three of Tanglewood’s delightful endings. The classic Key Lime Pie takes an indulgent twist with an Oreo cookie crust below and candied citrus peel on top, while the Black Forest Tart proved irresistible with three cylindrical layers of creamy Bing cherry and dark chocolate goodness. 

Perhaps the most creative dessert on the platter was the Port Wine Poached Pear, infused with cinnamon, glazed with chocolate and filled with sweet mascarpone cream. A memorable ending to a lovely evening out.

Favorites from Tanglewood’s lunch menu include Paella – a flavorful blend of saffron rice, spanish chorizo, mussels, braised chicken and peas – and the ever popular Open Face Flat Iron Steak and Egg Sandwich.

Tanglewood serves breakfast from 6:30-11 a.m., lunch from 11:30-3 p.m. and dinner from 5:30-10 p.m. daily. The restaurant features prime rib on Sundays. The Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort is located at the west end of Coconut Road, featuring a boardwalk to the bay and several lovely water features. 

A moonlit stroll or quiet talk by the fire pit make the perfect ending to a night out at Tanglewood.