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Big Sur eating itinerary (Treebones Resort)

a
abstractpoet Jul 27, 2011 11:19 AM

So I've seen a couple old threads that mention eating options in the vicinity of Treebones Resort, in Big Sur, but they were a few years old and I'm wondering if things are still as grim. I understand that part of the place's charm is how out of the way it is - maybe a 45-minute drive from the main stretch of eating options (and basically all of the most popular parks and beaches), right?

Anyway, if anyone has any suggestions for this proposed itinerary, it would be greatly appreciated. Wife is pregnant and on a low carb diet presently, so we'd like places that would have some options for her - no pizzerias, no sushi, etc. So:

DAY 1: On Saturday, we'll leave from Oakland in the a.m. (say 9-ish)

- I'm wondering if there is any especially good, casual lunch/brunch option on the way down, say in the Monterey or Carmel area? If not, we might just do some kind of Asian on the Peninsula or South Bay.

- Maybe we'll stop to pick up some goodies at Big Sur Bakery. (Granted, the breads and pastries would be mostly for me.)

- We'll settle in at Treebones in the afternoon and probably stay in the immediate vicinity. So I'm thinking maybe we'll just eat dinner there. Have heard very mixed reviews of the actual restaurant at Treebones (good veggies, overpriced and inconsistent entrees, does that sound right?), so I was thinking we might opt for the a la carte BBQ dinner that they serve in the lodge/outdoor area. Anyone tried this option before? I understand they have a sushi bar now too, but again, that doesn't work for the Mrs. Is there another good nearby option I'm missing?

DAY 2: Sunday. I'm thinking on this day we'd just plan on spending the bulk of the day out and about, closer to the main beaches/trails and the Big Sur "town center". Obviously it wouldn't make sense to drive all the way back to Treebones in between.

- Breakfast at Treebones (just eggs and waffles and granola, but it's complimentary, so I figured we could try it one day)

- Lunch at Sierra Mar. Is this the best splurge lunch, in terms of food/ambiance/view? Are reservations necessary for lunch on a Sunday? And are there parts of the resort where non-guests are allowed to hang out?

- Dinner at Big Sur Bakery. This was our favorite place when we visited Big Sur last spring. Expensive by Bay Area standards, but we thought it was a relative bargain compared to other restaurants in the area, especially given the quality. Still a good pick?

DAY 3: Monday. We check out by 11 and chart a leisurely course home.

- Breakfast/brunch at Deetjen's. I remember enjoying this last year, though I can't recall anything that I ate. Better options? I'd consider going to Big Sur Bakery again, but I believe they're closed on Mondays.

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Big Sur Bakery
47540 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

Sierra Mar Restaurant
Highway 1, Big Sur, CA

  1. g
    Gail Jul 28, 2011 12:44 PM

    You might want to check out the River Inn in Big Sur. I haven't eaten there, but friends say it's good and a fun place. Check their site for live music, I think on Sun afternoons. They have chairs by the river so you can "diddle" your toes while having lunch or a drink.

    www.bigsurriverinn.com

    1. toodie jane Jul 28, 2011 01:16 PM

      If you are going down 101 to Salinas, check 'Salinas' for some good posts on cafes and bakeries by Melanie and Stephanie Wong, area natives. Their chowdar is finely calibrated. Not much commercial action in Big Sur. All these spots have been covered here in the past; not aware of any changes. Perhaps others will post changes.

      Are you not taking any food? If wife is on special diet, perhaps prepare some-take along options for her. This area is not known for cuisine so much as yes, the scacred ground.

      There is a very good natural foods store just tucked behind the Barnyard Center, off Carmel Valley Rd and Highway 1 in Carmel. Whole Foods is in Monterey, in the Del Monte Center, just before you head up the hill towards Carmel. Plenty of places you can gather some picnic and snack supplies. Take an ice chest ,and get ice in town before driving down to BS, then if you feel like hunkering down at TB, you won't necessarily have to go out for chow. Or if you want to spend the afternoon at the Arthur Miller Library, you can take some casual food with you and not have to fight the crowds for chow somehwere. I think that's sort of the idea of the place. R-E-L-A-X....

      have a great time!

      1 Reply
      1. re: toodie jane
        a
        abstractpoet Jul 28, 2011 02:22 PM

        Thanks for mentioning Salinas as a possible place to stop on the way down - Taqueria El Grullense is on my radar now.

        We'll definitely bring along plenty of snacks, but it's our anniversary weekend, so we would like to have one or two more "special" meals; hence, the suggestion of Sierra Mar. Don't mind paying a little more, but don't want to pay $40 an entree for mediocre food. (Last spring we did Ventana, which was beautiful and the food good for what it was, but thought maybe we'd try something different.)

        -----
        Taqueria El Grullense
        976 Acosta Plaza, Salinas, CA 93905

        Sierra Mar Restaurant
        Highway 1, Big Sur, CA

      2. crowmuncher Aug 1, 2011 06:48 AM

        If you get this before lunchtime and can fit it- Nepenthe is quite memorable...48510 Highway One, Big Sur, California - (831) 667-2345 Amazing view, good food too, & the website says they're open for lunch everyday...

        http://www.nepenthebigsur.com/

        1. Ed Dibble Aug 1, 2011 10:18 AM

          For a Saturday brunch, I'd go to Tico's at 330 Reservation Rd in Marina (just north of Monterey/Seaside). Special weekend breakfast menu. Nothing fancy, but most things good. I love the home fries there.

          1. a
            abstractpoet Aug 2, 2011 11:45 PM

            So we ended up sticking to the plan, more or less:

            -Lunch in Salinas on the way down, at Taqueria El Grullense, was fantastic, probably the best meal of the trip. Shared four tacos (2 carnitas, 1 lengua, 1 carne asada) and one carnitas "super" quesadilla. The carnitas were excellent - the fork-tender, long-simmered variety rather than the kind with crisp edges. Their green salsa was so good, probably the best I've ever had. A lot of food for $15. Two friendly and exceedingly polite elementary-school-age girls, the owners' kids, were passing out menus at the door and chatted us up for a bit. "You're leaving already?" one of them asked as we got up to go. Cute.

            - Outdoor BBQ dinner at Treebones, where we were staying, was surprisingly decent and a good deal (especially for Big Sur). $10 a plate, for two beef "yakitori" (not really) skewers and a generous mound of Asian slaw. Meat was very tender and tastier than we expected. I assume the BBQ option changes every week. There were also big mugs of cold beer from a keg, $5 a glass. I think they only do these BBQs (w/ live music) on Saturday nights, and probably only during the summer.

            - Breakfast at Treebones is complimentary. Make-your-own-waffle was the best part of it. There was also a really wholesome homemade granola that I didn't care for, thick Greek yogurt, bad coffee, and bland scrambled eggs. But free is free. And we loved our ocean view yurt!

            - Lunch at Sierra Mar was pretty disappointing. Great view, of course. And probably many of the entrees would have been fine. I guess I would just say that you might want to avoid the sandwiches. I should have known better than to order something with lobster in it (a lobster BLT) that was the same price as a turkey sandwich ($20, on this menu). But I had just been reading something about lobster rolls and had a craving. Let's just say this didn't satisfy that craving, at all. No detectable lobster flavor. The lobster might as well have come out of a can (and maybe it did!). Wife's "wagyu" pastrami sandwich was almost inedibly salty.

            - Dinner at Big Sur Bakery was also a slight disappointment, maybe just because I'd remembered it as being better. We might have just ordered badly. Grilled Monterey squid appetizer was great, really fresh. And dessert, a blueberry crisp, was wonderful. But both our entrees disappointed: the fried chicken special (available every Sunday) was really weirdly breaded and under-seasoned. Worse than shake and bake. Wife's roasted sea bass was fine, but also on the bland side - a lot of the food we were served was pretty bland, actually. Bill came out to over $80 before tip, making it by far the most expensive meal of our trip.

            - Final breakfast before we headed home was at Deetjen. Perfectly competent eggs benedict and huevos rancheros. Bad coffee. (Shockingly bad coffee throughout the entire trip!)

            Anyway, I guess we made out OK, but needless to say you don't go to Big Sur for the food...

            -----
            Taqueria El Grullense
            976 Acosta Plaza, Salinas, CA 93905

            Big Sur Bakery
            47540 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

            Sierra Mar Restaurant
            Highway 1, Big Sur, CA

            7 Replies
            1. re: abstractpoet
              moto Aug 3, 2011 02:28 AM

              thanks for the report. I think Big Sur Bakery might be best for brunch -- we liked our dinner there, but it was somewhat a contemporary Cali revision of comfort food, enjoyable due to the quality and freshness of the ingredients and competently done, but not memorable. The comfort food approach is appropriate for brunch, and their coffee was quite acceptable (not great, but reasonably fresh in the roast and strong in the brew). From eating at not-cheap places in semi-isolated coastal towns dependent on the tourist trade (Eureka, Jenner, Cambria, Forestville, Los Olivos to name a few), I do not expect to find much creativity, boldness, or thought-provoking in that situation -- economics might discourage risk taking, and there isn't lots of competition at certain price ranges to raise the bar. Considering the fine dining options around Big Sur, the bakery might qualify as a mid-range place to eat compared to Sierra Mar or the other pricey resorts.

              -----
              Big Sur Bakery
              47540 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

              1. re: moto
                toodie jane Aug 3, 2011 08:58 AM

                Well said, moto. Many people come to the central coast not realizing how isolated is can be from mainstream trends. They expect the usual cosmopolitan offerings; if that were true, it would no longer be the same lovely place. I'll take the trade-off. Makes trips to the city all the more exciting for food finds.

                1. re: moto
                  a
                  abstractpoet Aug 3, 2011 11:04 AM

                  We actually had a very good dinner at Big Sur Bakery a year ago, so it really might have just been what we ordered. I recall the pizza as being quite good, and the roast chicken too. I would have thought that they'd do a good fried chicken (and our server had raved about it), but like I said, I was pretty disappointed. Will have to try their brunch next time.

                  And we actually did have Big Sur Bakery's coffee one afternoon this time around and didn't much care for it, though we didn't get a standard drip cup. My cappuccino was just OK (but was $4.50!); my wife's cafe au lait was terrible. It tasted like .... nothing. Pretty much like water. Which led me to believe that the drip coffee they made it with must have been pretty weak. We'd been hoping to pick up a loaf of their great bread and maybe a pastry or something, but they were sold out of everything except the coffee.

                  Anyway, I think the roaster was "Acme," which was a brand name I saw at a couple other places on the coast.

                  -----
                  Big Sur Bakery
                  47540 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

                  1. re: abstractpoet
                    moto Aug 3, 2011 12:47 PM

                    in the smaller towns along the tourist trail, there are far more espresso machines than well trained barristas, so if we encounter competency it's like the lottery -- drip makers are much more automated and only require a reasonably decent grind, full concentration, and consumption within 20-30 min of brewing. the bakery is actually has a good situation to be roasting their own, but the by products like the aromatic smoke in large quantities might upset the locals and the zoning/environmental reg's. the brunch pizza at the bakery was delicious -- they make a variation of it with the bacon and egg that's very good up in healdsburg at the Downtown Bakery.

                    1. re: abstractpoet
                      danna Aug 4, 2011 06:56 AM

                      Wow. I thought my coffee was memorably good at BSB. I also noted that after the counter guy poured me a (free) refill...he looked at it...pronounced it not fresh/strong/something enough, dumped it out and made more. I was impressed.

                      1. re: abstractpoet
                        Ed Dibble Aug 4, 2011 10:10 AM

                        Acme is a small roasting company near Monterey. Its product is very good. I have bought coffee from there to take back home with me. So it must be the execution, not the beans that was the problem.

                        1. re: Ed Dibble
                          a
                          abstractpoet Aug 4, 2011 10:34 AM

                          Cheers. Well, maybe the problem was with our barista or with the specific batch that had been brewed or just with their cafe au laits in specific. I'll give BSB's drip coffee another shot the next time we're in the area.

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