Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn, 47900 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA, 93920, 831.667.2800, “I want to lick the wood,” Mr. exclaims. He’s talking about the reclaimed block of fallen Oakwood, which has been charred and used as a fragrant platter for a sophisticated rendition of the classic campfire dessert, S’mores. A warm, silky chocolate crèmeaux is infused with the smoky oak and the lightly whipped homemade marshmallow cuts through any sort of cocoa overload, cleansing the palate and having an effect that possesses—you want to lick the wood. The Camp Fire is the last of nine (including all the amuse bouches I think we counted 12) courses in the Taste Of Big Sur tasting menu ($160, wine pairing $95). If you have the pleasure of dining at Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn for dinner I highly recommend experiencing a Taste Of Big Sur through the wildly creative hands of executive chef, John Cox.

Fennel Crusted Yellowtail Tuna at Sierra Mar
Fennel Crusted Yellowtail Tuna with watercress, puffed wild rice, Buddha’s hand, endive and mandarin orange at Sierra Mar

Inspired by the heritage and local flora and fauna of Big Sur, chef Cox does a wonderful job of playing tour guide as you taste a trio of rare and indigenous caviars; red Abalone two ways—local wild-caught served sashimi-style, pressed in smoked kelp with locally foraged seaweeds and a just-down-the-street farm-raised version served dorée—baked in its shell with dried tomato, brown butter and basil. The waitress explained this dish so beautifully—“The former having to fight for its life in the wild will reflect a tougher attitude, whereas the latter having lived a relatively easy life will be delicate and fatty.” I suppose we’d have to say the good life rules, even when it comes to being an Abalone—sweet, juicy, delicate in flavor, these meaty morsels were divine. Even the intermission of acorn bread topped with pig fat displays chef’s nod to the original American Indians of Big Sur who ground acorns into flour and his use of every bit of the boar. Who would have thought slivers of gelatin-looking charcuterie would be so deliciously addicting? Then there was the Big Sur Camembert, served with hay smoldered onion and pumpkin as “dirt” and mushroom broth whipped into a meringue and piped into the shape of mushrooms—savory and wildly unique in flavor and texture, it left us wondering what could be next?

Breakfast at Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn

Peacefully floating above the ocean, yet seamlessly integrated with the environment, Sierra Mar’s Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired “organic architecture” by Mickey Muennig leaves guests feeling inspired—by design, nature and the creative culinary works of genius that come out of chef Cox’s kitchen.

House-cured goose Prosciutto, quince, rose petal, winter chicories at Sierra Mar
House-cured goose Prosciutto, quince, rose petal, winter chicories

With a menu reflective of what’s in season, that question is the essence of Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn; it’s an incredibly refreshing culinary experience. Beginning with Mickey Muennig’s mid-century modern architecture, which for the design world represented an era of innovation and possibilities—Lautner and Lloyd Wright were doing things so completely revolutionary in the realm of architecture for their time that it pushed the limits and advanced the industry as a whole. And this excitement for the new-modern and the “organic architecture” that creates an instant zen with one’s environment is encapsulated in Sierra Mar’s dining room thanks to Muennig—You feel totally futuristic, yet at one with the earth. To complete the experience the service is impeccable; wine list is comprehensive; and the cocktails are so good we named the Winter Sur Lady Holiday‘s Drink Of The Year. 

If you’re staying on property there’s a myriad of activities abound, including stargazing, yoga, surfing, visiting a shaman, hiking or simply floating in solitude in an infinity pool that appears to drop off into the Pacific. Or in-room you can discover fresh, local juices, teas and fresh baked cookies in your fully-stocked (and complimentary) mini bar and don’t fret if you run out of firewood—it’s a phone call away. Every element at Post Ranch Inn successfully inspires wonder, injects a child-like “what’s next?” attitude and makes you feel completely at home with idea of staying in Neverland forever.