If you’re going on a road trip down the pacific coast through the Big Sur, there’s one place that everyone tells you to go, and that’s Nepenthe. In his 1962 book ‘Big Sur’, Jack Kerouac, describes the restaurant thus, “From the baths we go to Nepenthe which is a beautiful cliff top restaurant with a vast outdoor patio, with excellent food, excellent waiters and management, good drinks, chess tables, chairs and tables to just sit in the sun an look at the grand cost…”
Whilst Kerouac’s description is less than effusive, it is pretty much spot on; so allow me to add a few superlatives. The location is amazing, the view of the pacific ocean fantastic, and the food bloody tasty. We both ate the trademark Ambrosia burger, which as the name suggests (in the work of Homer, Ambrosia is the food of the gods), was pretty heavenly. The meat was clearly good quality, the bun toasted and beautifully soft, but what really set it off was the sauce – a kind of tomato, chili mayonaise. Served with a huge side of fries and a light slaw, it was a great lunch. But with a view like that, you can’t go that far wrong.
It’s pretty rare that a restaurant lives up to the hype, but Nepenthe does, and not much seems to have changed since Kerouac wrote his description. It’s a simple formula, but one that works, and the owners have stuck to it.
You can get the recipe for the Ambrosia burger here, but I’m not sure it would taste quite so good without that view.