When Chef John Cox handed me an oyster at The LA Food and Wine festival last year, I took it as a personal invitation to dine at his restaurant Sierra Mar inside The Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California. And so began our weekend adventure to his steel treehouse in the sky.
The trip began with a night in San Francisco and a visit to Una Pizza Napoletana for Chef Anthony Mangieri’s purist pizza. All the dough is handmade by himself and only served 4 days a week for a few hours in the evening. It’s sort of a cooking in the round experience as the chef does everything right in front of you. I ordered a Bianca pizza and can attest it is worth the wait in line to be whisked off to Naples on a carpet made of dough. Here is an insider’s tip: Go at 5 PM. That is when the restaurant opens and so the line is minimal. The door is right outside a bus stop though so be ready for the line jumpers (yes ladies we saw you…).
Armed with bags of Yank Sing to Go, my husband and I began the 2 hour drive from San Francisco to our hotel near Monterey. We decided to take the “scenic” route and so vowed never to stray from the PCH. Another Insider’s tip:the first 2 hours of the drive are a series of long lines of traffic through beach towns will little or no view of the actual beach, so listen to your IPHONE and take the 101.
That being said, as the second hour turned into the third, our desperate search for a restroom began and with it the wonderful discovery of The Bonny Doon Tasting Room! Not only was it an escape from traffic, but for only $10 we got 6 wine tastings and 2 trips to the loo 🙂
We arrived at The Centrella Inn with just enough time to change before getting on the road for the final portion of our journey to the Post Ranch Inn. This part of the drive is worth sitting in traffic for and my photos hardly capture the magic.
The driveway up to The Post Ranch Inn is a signal that you are about to experience something fabulous. The entrance to the hotel is restricted to those staying there or eating there, and after we had crossed over to the other side, deer and wilderness awaited us. A far cry from the wildlife we’re used to in LA.
Sierra Mar is on the top of the hill where the hotel rests and ladies you best leave your Loubs at home. Three flights of wooden stairs carved into the side of a mountain later…I barely arrived.
The restaurant makes you feel like you are sitting in a glass house over the ocean, and offers some of the best panorama views of the Pacific. There is no bad seat in the house.
The menu offers 4 courses of seasonal choices, although a 9 course menu is sometimes available if you request it. Hoping to make it down the mountain again, I chose 4.
The Bread is a great way to keep yourself from eating the butter with your fingers. The one on the right is made with goat cheese.
Morro Bay Oysters
Very different from the Oyster that brought me here in the first place, these were topped with a hollandaise and served over pickled onions.
Buttermilk Fried Quail
Covered in puffed rice, panko, and a dollop of black caviar
Served with Quinoa, Almonds, and Popcorn (this was my husbands, and almost too beautiful to eat)
Oregon Lamb Rack
Served with Barley, Date, in a pomegranate-brown-butter Jus
A Tasting of Artisanal Cheeses
I have never turned down a cheese plate but after such large portions I had to resist asking for a to-go box to take this back with me. Very good to order if you’re with someone to share it with.
After Dinner Drinks on the outdoor Patio because we couldn’t resist. The warm scotch more than made up for the cold winds.
Although I can’t say it was the best food of my life, it ranks among my top foodie journeys.
Beginning with an oyster and ending with a pearl.