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Jun 27, 2007 11:05 AM

Big Sur rec's

Having perused the chowhound rec's for the area these are the three that seem to get the best recommendations: Deetjens, Big Sur Bakery and (only one reference but it looked good to me) Big Sur Roadhouse Cafe. Does anyone disagree? I'm hoping for decent food and enjoyable atmosphere. Thanks!

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  1. The places you mentioned may have good food, but none of them has an ocean view. We always go to Nepenthe, great view and unique place. I could stay home and have no ocean view. It is expensive, but worth it, I think.

    1. You may have read some of my posts on Deetjen's--very satisfying food and setting--and Big Sur Bakery, the only "bakery" I've ever eaten in that actually serves a great dinner. While lunch on their patio is beautiful and peaceful, the food's actually much better at dinner, when the top chefs come on. We had another delightful dinner there earlier this month. I had an excellent roast organic chicken with morels and vegetable melange of my choice on mashed potatoes with a rich garlic gravy. And the beef thing they do is excellent, too.

      Our experience about a year and a half ago at Big Sur Roadhouse was very disappointing. Perhaps the chef called in sick that night because things were barely edible. At one time it was owned by a couple of former chefs from Sierra Mar and was called Bonito Roadhouse, but I was told they sold it and the name was changed to Big Sur Roadhouse. The room felt sterile to us and was not busy. Not really the feel I want in Big Sur.

      You might also consider Sierra Mar at Post Ranch The new owners are renovating the place now, so it's closed until August 1st, when they plan to re-open. Supposedly, the chef and the food will remain the same as it was before. A drink and apps in late afternoon is great and you get your exercise climbing all those steps up the hill, and the view is so worth it. Restricted hours to non-guests--call to reserve.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Moka

        Thanks Moka! We'll be there in early July so Sierra Mar won't work. Perhaps I should skip Big Sur Roadhouse.

        1. re: Missmoo

          Skip the roadhouse - definitely eat at the Bakery. Too bad Sierra Mar is closed...

          1. re: jbyoga

            Let me clarify, Sierra Mar does have a temporary restaurant open now, until the original Sierra Mar on top of the hill is finished. The temporary place is in a meadow on Post Ranch's property with no ocean view. I would imagine the food would still be good, but for me, I want the ocean views.

          2. re: Missmoo

            Well, in that case, Cielo at Ventana would be open and also has good food on a nice patio with panoramic ocean views from the other side of Highway 1, but only for lunch or at sunset. We were up there last Fall for seafood salads and a very nice panna cotta with huckleberry sauce at lunch and were quite pleased, though there may have been changes in the kitchen since then. One nice thing about Cielo is that its higher on the hill and sometimes overlooks the fog banks.

            I see the ocean every day, so to me, Big Sur isn't just about ocean views, although they are fabulous, I think just as highly of a redwood forest view, another reason I like Deetjen's. But as Gail mentioned, you can't beat the coastal views at Nepenthe and when the place is not busy, there's a special feeling there that's hard to describe. While the food is not as good, there are a few good things on the menu. We like to go for apps and a glass of wine and sit outside on the rail closest to the edge of the cliff. Their house-cured salmon with basil aioli and goat cheese is very good and also their artisan cheese plate with guava paste and fig cake. The prices are a little high but ok, given the spectacular setting and being in such a remote location from suppliers.

            Best of all, they offer the Gary's (Gary Pisoni/Gary Franscioni) Santa Lucia Highlands pinot noir by the glass, which is rare. Nepenthe is passionate about the SLH pinots,--they have quite an extensive list of them and many of their servers have completed professional wine training. Server "Angus" is especially passionate and fun to talk with. It's important to go at off the wall times to avoid the crowds. If you want a view breakfast, think Cafe Kevah (the lower deck). Deetjen's breakfast is better, though.

            For a picnic, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park a ways south is exquisite! Enjoy!

            1. re: Moka

              So would you choose Sierra Mar or Cielo in that case? Thanks for the help Moka!

              1. re: Missmoo

                For lunch or dinner? Do you want a casual, locals place or the little more upscale feel of the Post Ranch or Ventana inns?

                1. re: Moka

                  I'm assuming you mean dinner: (Sierra Mar vs. Cielo)
                  That's a tough decision! IF Sierra Mar can produce the same quality 4-course dinner at their temporary site that they did in their regular kitchen, I'd give them the edge. But it's pricey and without that stunning ocean view, it would be a different experience, though you'd still be surrounded by nature. Maybe you could walk up and see the views after dinner or ask if they would drive you up. Weather permitting, Cielo would have ocean views from the terrace with your dinner. They're both amazing properties. Since they're practically across the street from each other, maybe you can check them both out.

                  Big Sur Bakery and Deetjen's are casual for dinner, but full of local flavor and more relaxed. I like the Bakery's dinner a lot, but they are both my favorite places for dinner. I hope this helps you! ;.)

                  1. re: Moka

                    Thanks for the replies Moka. I was thinking dinner, but the truth is the more casual local place is what I am looking for, so maybe I should just go to Big Sur Bakery twice instead. Thanks again!

        2. In my decades of travel around the U.S., it's hard to recall a dining experience as poor as the one we had at the Big Sur Roadhouse in 2004. Lousy food, ridiculously lousy service---we left in the middle of our dinner...

          1 Reply
          1. re: mardy

            I'd wait until Sierra Mar re-opens in the fabulous old (read: scenic) facility in August. The current facility has about as much ambiance as a retirement center dining room.