Tag Archives: Big Sur CA

Roasted Duck Breast (Big Sur Bakery, Big Sur CA)

Wood-Fired Duck Breast

Wood-Fired Duck Breast, Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant
Wood-Fired Duck Breast, Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant

The Dish: Wood-Fired Duck Breast

This is a near-perfect duck dish, and among top duck dishes I ate in  2008. Something about roasting a bird with a wood-fired oven or grill captures the real essence and flavors of meat exceptionally well, and chef Philip Wojtowicz has really mastered the technique in all the great meat dishes at Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant.  The duck breast is sliced and flayed apart, like rosy wings or arrow tips, and plenty of jus remains from the meat. The sole improvement to this dish would be some crisping on the fatty duck skin. But hey, it’s duck. That’s an expectation. 

An additional nice note about Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant is that you can select from a handful of seasonal vegetable sides. I opted to partner the duck with creamy risotto with fresh corn, scallions, Parmesan and rich broth. It was sterling, to say the least. 

Big Sur Bakery in Big Sur CA.
Big Sur Bakery in Big Sur CA.

The Spot: Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur CA

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant is my favorite place to eat in Big Sur, hands down. It transforms from a funky little bakery in the morning that serves up incredible pastries to a lovely and heart-warming little spot for a romantic dinner in the evenings. Every pastry, every dinner I had there was excellent.  Two of the three folks behind this little gem are are an emigre couple from Los Angeles, pastry chef/co-owner Michelle Rizzolo and her husband, chef Philip Wojtowicz.

What’s great about Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant is its straightforward, unpretentious excellence and down-home, rustic simplicity: picnic tables on the patio and heavy little wooden tables and chairs inside.

The service is friendly and sweet and, if any place can demonstrate the inexpressibly tender magic of one of the most magical spots on Earth, Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant certainly does. It’s the gastronomic soul of Big Sur, and Rizzolo & Wojtowicz capture Big Sur’s zeitgeist in every bite.  It doesn’t just get to your stomach; it stays in your heart.

The Grade: Awesome (5 out of 5)

The Damage: $27

The Skinny: Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant

47540 Highway 1, Big Sur CA

Phone: (831) 667-0520

Website: http://www.bigsurbakery.com

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wood-Fired Pork Shoulder (Big Sur)

Wood-Fired Pork Shoulder

Wood-fired Pork Shoulder, Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant
Wood-fired Pork Shoulder, Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant

The Dish: Pork Shoulder

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant offers fantastic dishes of meat, wood-grilled and roasted to enhance each meat’s warm, rich, and natural flavors. Their roasted pork shoulder is an absolutely awesome plate, grilled with a smattering of whole-grain mustard aioli. You can pick your choice of sides from several great seasonal options. i thought the white French beans with pancetta and braised greens were perfect. Overall, this was one of the best pork dishes of 2008: tender, flavorful, just simply magnificent. The understated decor in the restaurant and the sweetness of the staff just made the dish, and the evening, terrific.

The Cut: What’s Pork Shoulder?

Pork shoulder is the more contemporary term most restaurants use when describing the pork shoulder butt, or what butchers call simply pork butt. It’s a tender, more fatty, and thoroughly delicious portion of the pig if done correctly. But if you call it ‘butt,’ people get the wrong impression and you won’t sell many.

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur CA
Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur CA

The Spot: Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur CA

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant is my favorite place to eat in Big Sur, hands down. It transforms from a funky little bakery in the morning that serves up incredible pastries to a lovely and heart-warming little spot for a romantic dinner in the evenings. Every pastry, every dinner I had there was excellent.  Two of the three folks behind this little gem are are an emigre couple from Los Angeles, pastry chef/co-owner Michelle Rizzolo and her husband, chef Philip Wojtowicz.

What’s great about Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant is its straightforward, unpretentious excellence and down-home, rustic simplicity: picnic tables on the patio and heavy little wooden tables and chairs inside.

The service is friendly and sweet and, if any place can demonstrate the inexpressibly tender magic of one of the most magical spots on Earth, Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant certainly does. It’s the gastronomic soul of Big Sur, and Rizzolo & Wojtowicz capture Big Sur’s zeitgeist in every bite.  It doesn’t just get to your stomach; it stays in your heart.

The Grade: Awesome (5 out of 5)

The Damage: $27

The Skinny: Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant

47540 Highway 1, Big Sur CA


Phone: (831) 667-0520

Website: http://www.bigsurbakery.com

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Burger (“The Burger” at Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur CA)

BURGER (“THE” BURGER)

 

"The Burger" at Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur, CA

THE DISH: “THE” BURGER

When you spend a full page on your website glorifying your burger and you call your burger “The Burger,” you had better deliver something beyond special. Hungry burger lovers are licking lips in anticipation, in a literal way. Despite the great environment, a house-made bun, and 8 ounces of Niman Ranch beef, “The Burger” just doesn’t deliver. (Especially for the high price which, for now, I’ve conveniently forgotten). The condiments, the toppings (typical white onion, tomato, lettuce, pickle), even the fries, meh…

I encourage the great folks at Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant to revise the recipe, up the ante, confound the condiments, shock the vegetables, bustle the hedgerow, whatever it takes to step this up to its reputation. Because every other dish I ate at Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant was rocking. Every one but “The Burger.”

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur CA
Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur CA

THE SPOT: BIG SUR BAKERY & RESTAURANT, BIG SUR CA

To say I love this restaurant is an understatement; it’s a wonderful, warm place to dine in Big Sur, the chefs are conscious and caring, and the food, on the whole, is great. You know, the burger was OK but at the price, it should be awesome.

THE GRADE: DISAPPOINTING (0 out of 5) 

THE DAMAGE:Expensive for a burger that you will not fall in love with

THE SKINNY: BIG SUR BAKERY & RESTAURANT

Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

Phone: (831) 667-0520

Website: http://www.bigsurbakery.com/

Brunch, Saturday & Sunday, 10:30 am to 2:45 pm

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Burger (The Famous Ambrosiaburger, Nepenthe, Big Sur CA)

The Vibe: Nepenthe is the legendary Big Sur dining spot with a vast view, family-owned since 1949. There’s a large outdoor patio in front, a smaller patio in back that faces the ocean (through many tall trees), and indoor seating with tall wooden beams above, a semi-circular bar to the right, and an old fireplace to the left. It’s a neat little place that exemplifies the Big Sur energy, homey and pioneering and funky and cool.

What most people don’t know is that Nepenthe’s got an incredible wine list, so it’s a great place to go for a salad or burger or sandwich paired with a really top-flight bottle of wine. You’re on vacation; why not?

The AmbosiaBurger at Nepenthe, Big Sur, CA
The AmbosiaBurger at Nepenthe, Big Sur, CA

The DIsh: “The Famous Ambrosiaburger” (with Cheddar Cheese)

Despite the fact that Nepenthe undercooks their burgers on purpose—and you may be too hungry to care to send it back—the flavor and juiciness of this burger makes it really a delight. If you visit, be kind and mindful and remind your waiter you really do want it medium or medium-well instead of waiting for it coming back a bit bloody, no matter what level of grill time you request. The meat’s great and it comes on a great bun with great sauce (the ambrosia, which is like a home-style thousand island dressing). But there’s something more: a charcoal or dirty grill flavor to the burger that reminds you of being a kid, having a home-cooked burger, that makes their burger really flavorful and enjoyable. The immense, relaxing, and romantic environment probably have an affect on the senses as well, turning a hungry memory into something larger than it should be. But good meals are like that.

The beef is actually chopped steak, and the slightly sweet French roll is fantastic, with gooey cheddar pulling it all together. It’s one of the best burgers I ate in 2008.

The homemade slaw was somewhat bland and disappointing, so I recommend you opt for another side selection. The service can be slow, but if you’re down in Big Sur, you should start slowing down, too. Be sure to review the wine list! You’ll be as gaga as Wine Spectator was over it.

The Grade: Excellent / Exceptional (4 out of 5)

The Damage: $13.50 (yikes…oh yeah, chopped steak), plus $1.50 for cheese (a must)

The Skinny: Nepenthe Restaurant

Highway 1, Big Sur CA 94920

Phone: (831) 667-2345

Website: http://www.nepenthebigsur.com/

Serving lunch and dinner, 11:30 am to 10:00 pm daily

Nepenthe on Urbanspoon