After you’ve wound your way along the beautiful Highway 1 coastline, past the cabins grouped together called “resorts,” motels, general stores, and the ranger station, is the charming Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant. So many delectable things come out of their wood burning oven at this simple, rustic, Big Sur gem. This is what my mom and I consumed during our 24-hour food pilgrimage:
wood roasted quail, micro greens, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, and vinaigrette
mache lettuce, apples, goat cheese, walnuts, and apple cider cinnamon vinaigrette
butter-braised line-caught california sea bass
succotash of fava beans, butter beans, peas, corn, baby green beans, and fingerling potatoes
pizza of carmelized onion, figs, goat cheese, and arugula
lemon steamed pudding, huckleberries, and lemon verbena sauce
Melville 2007 pinot noir
Although we could have eaten outside on the deck in uncomfortable metal chairs, we were drawn to the coziness of the inside, which was softly illuminated by candles. Seated next to us was a table of bearded men who looked like lumberjacks. Presented with our menus (single sheets of paper attached to clipboards), we chose a beverage – two pints of Anchor Steam, brewed just up the coast in San Francisco. We also ordered a plate of mixed olives in olive oil because it seemed like the right thing to do.
We had just begun to sip the foam off the top of our beers, when a small cutting board arrived with four kinds of bread from their wood burning oven – pumpkin, asiago cheese, multi-grain, and one that we think was sourdough. Next to the pile of bread slices on the cutting board was a small cup of unsalted butter and a beautiful pile of salt crystals. It was too dim in the room to see, but when I lifted my salted bread up to the candle, I could see specks of orange and gray. It was fun to take a pinch of salt and season our bread as we ate. Along with the olives, we probably could have left after that and been satisfied.
Our salads arrived on huge plates. My roasted quail was so crispy and flavorful like bacon, and just barely wilted the micro greens beneath it. The roasted red peppers and mushrooms were a perfect earthy match to the quail and the vinaigrette with a hint of sweetness. My mom’s salad tasted like the epitome of fall with apples, walnuts, goat cheese, bundles of mache lettuce and an unforgettable apple cider-cinnamon vinaigrette. By this time we had scoured the extensive wine list and decided to go with a pinot noir that was so smooth and delicious, it paired with everything we ate.
My wood-fired pizza was an appealing purple (figs), white (goat cheese) and green (arugula). Underneath everything was a thin layer of caramelized onions. It was so good I didn’t miss tomato sauce or mozzarella. My mom’s butter braised sea bass was so simple and delicate. Beforehand we had selected which veggie dish to accompany the entree. The succotash turned out to be the perfect choice – a medley of beans, corn, peas and tiny potatoes.
After I had asked for the rest of my pizza to be wrapped up, the dessert menus arrived, which of course we couldn’t turn down. The steamed lemon pudding was nice and light. The huckleberries and lemon verbena sauce made it even better. Two glasses of really good champagne ended our almost-3-hour meal.
I guess we couldn’t get enough the night before. Or maybe it was because we wanted to get out of our “charming” little cabin as soon as possible, but we were back the next morning for our coffee and breakfast to fuel us for our hike.
ricotta-apricot jam danish
freshly brewed coffee
The quiche was quite possibly the best quiche we had ever tasted. The crust was so flaky, and the inside was so rich, made with fresh eggs from TLC Ranch in Watsonville, California. I never thought asparagus could be so good for breakfast. The danish was light and flaky, with the perfect thin layer of ricotta and jam. Donuts are always hard to turn down, but when they’re made by the Big Sur Bakery, they’re even harder. Needless to say, we definitely had enough fuel for our hike to the ocean and through the redwood trees, still recovering from the fire that swept through them earlier in the year.
Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant
Big Sur, California 93920