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Big Sur this weekend-- where to go?

so it's the SO's birthday, and we're staying @ Fernwood. We've eaten at Nepenthe, and Ventana (Cielo?), but aren't opposed to going back to either. Last trip up was a few years ago, is there anything new or hidden that is a must try? also--little bars/taverns worth stopping at?
thanks from an LA hound...

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    1. re: Beach Chick

      thanks Beach Chick, the sample menu on the website looks killer! do you know how much the 4 course runs?

      1. re: jdwdeville

        I was just there in September for my birthday.
        We had lunch outside on the patio on a gorgeous day..we had wine, cheese course, entrees..plus a freebie dessert and it was around $100 bucks..including tip.
        We totally fell in love with this place..

    2. I live near Boston where we just got 10 inches of snow, but drove down the coast near Big Sur about 2 weeks ago. You're lucky, lucky, lucky!

      1. http://www.deetjens.com/restaurant.htm

        This is a funky place that gets good reviews. They serve only breakfast and dinner. We usually drive down from Carmel for lunch, so haven't had a chance to try it. Check out the site, looks very interesting.

        1. I know you will not follow my advice, but I'd cancell my reservations and eat my three dinners at the Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant. If you really want fine food, skip Nepenthe. Go there if you want an excellent view, but the food has never been good and is expensive. It's not bad, it's just not good. Ventana also has excellent views and even more pricey food. But once again, the food is not memorable.

          For exceptional go to "The Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant." The chief must go to sleep thinking about food. Everything is good, all the time. We are talking fine Califorian-Mediterranean using fresh local ingredients when possible. Dinners in the $25 range, vege friendly. By far the best food in Big Sur including Post Ranch. Plus a great homey athmosphere. No view. Try to make reservation as you may be turned away as it is on the smaller side and popular with the locals. Nice wine list too. (831) 667-0520. Just South of the Big Sur Post Office. West side of Highway One, look for a tiny two pump gas station with dirt driveway and next to a nursery.

          1 Reply
          1. re: LanceM

            I agree - def. go to Big Sur Bakery. We ate dinners at Deetjen's, Post Ranch and Esalen when we were there (we stayed two nights at Deetjen's and one at Esalen.) and all were good but I wished we'd made time for a dinner at the Bakery after visiting for lunch and pastries. This NY Times piece came out right after we got back:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/10/mag...

          2. If you want a very special place it's the restaurant at the Post Ranch Inn. spectaular.

            1. I've had some very pleasant lunches at the Big Sur River Inn - when the weather is nice you can sit on the lawn by the river and eat your meals. So nice. It's relaxed and casual - http://www.bigsurriverinn.com/

              1. So... just got back and-- Thank you, LanceM!! Big Sur Bakery was absolutely wonderful! We had a wild salmon crudo w/ uni, garlic shoots and green onion; wood roasted oysters w/ mignonette; crab stuffed sole w/ root vegetables; and duck breast in garlic ginger jus w/ yam pie and creamed leeks. The meal was finished with lavender creme brulee w/ huckleberries, and every single thing was EXCEPTIONAL! Service was excellent and very capable, w/out being cold. Wow.
                other meals included Redwood Grill @ Fernwood--great bar food, and the have won an award for the special dishes they create using locally foraged chanterelles.
                Deetjen's-- went for breakfast, was good, nothing exceptional other than the place itself. they REALLY know how to keep your coffee full, however, a big plus!
                River Inn-- we were going to eat in the restaurant, but it seemed a little pricey/normal for us, so we got fresh burritos from the burrito bar in the store there, which were great-- huge, stuffed full of veggies and egg and good chorizo, and 6 bucks. that's 2 breakfasts at Deetjen's, and just as good.
                Nepenthe-- by far the most depressing spectacle of the trip. like putting an Applebee's on top of an indian burial ground, you can feel the ghosts of the greats who once made this place special shudder and curse as sour faced unhappy bartenders sling 6oz $10 bloody marys for a jaguar-range rover crowd who charged $200 at LL Bean for their outfits to wear on this "roughing it" getaway. ugh. we pounde our drinks and ran away from that place with revulsion on our heels... hightailed it to the store and bought fruit, bread, and cheese and hiked down to Partington Cove to reconnect with why we were there.
                oh, and the Post Ranch is $105pp for dinner (vs. $120 total for our very indulgent Bakery dinner).
                Thanks all for the recs!

                3 Replies
                1. re: jdwdeville

                  Wow, you just had a great time, didn't you?!? Maybe we're just easily pleased, but we enjoy most places in Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur. Your take on Nepenthe, belies most all reviews I've seen. We, as I've mentioned on another thread, have been going there since they folk danced and smoked pot on the patio. The "group" you mentioned LLBean, Jag etc I guess I've missed. I'm a real believer in "...as you sow, so shall you reap.. Have always had pleasant experiences there and yes, I know it'll cost me a buck or two.

                  1. re: Gail

                    Gail-- had I been there when it was like what you describe, I would be overjoyed. we were in Big sur for a special weekend, and price really had nothing to do with it. I've paid much more for a good bloody in my time, however, that $10 seems much more precious when served to you by a bartender who treats you the way we were treated... I was excited to go back to Nepenthe--it had been years. I'm not worried about paying out as buck or two, i'm concerned about how worth it it is to spend that buck or two.
                    "...as you sow, so shall you reap.." yes. i believe this as well, and we truly reaped a wonderful bounty in the friendliness of everyone at Fernwood, Deetjens, and the Bakery; and we are so very thankful for them all.

                  2. re: jdwdeville

                    Glad you liked Big Sur Bakery - but I'm sure glad we weren't at Nepenthe at the same time - I wouldn't have wanted to offend you with the LL Bean jacket that I wore to watch the sunset on the balcony!