Location: 29 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1, Big Sur
Hours: Nepenthe Restaurant open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Information: Nepenthe at 667-2345 or www.nepenthebigsur.com
"In summer, when the fog rolls in, one can look down upon a sea of clouds floating listlessly above the ocean; they have the appearance, at times, of huge iridescent soap bubbles, over which, now and then, may be seen a double rainbow."
That poetic line, penned by Henry Miller in his book "Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch," perfectly fits one of the many views from the deck at Nepenthe restaurant.
Nepenthe itself is an icon, a mecca for writers, artists and travelers since it was opened in 1949 by Lolly and Bill Fassett. According to a recounting by their granddaughter Erin Gafill, the Fassetts bought a cabin at what's now Nepenthe from stars Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, who impulsively purchased it as a retreat, then never even stayed there.
With an architect who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright, the Fassetts designed Nepenthe, whose name is Greek for "isle of no care," the atmosphere they tried - and succeeded - in creating.
That feeling emanates in large part from the architecture and layout of Nepenthe, a redwood and adobe structure perched some 800 feet above the Pacific, with sweeping views from its wraparound deck.
If you arrive at the restaurant and are asked whether you would like to sit "on the edge," the answer is yes. "The edge" is sort of like the counter at a diner, only instead of looking into a bustling kitchen you are gazing at an awe-inspiring view.
It may resemble the foggy scene described by Miller. Or it may be a crystal-clear day, the view taking in the hillside tumbling into the ocean and the blue horizon beyond. Time it right and you could catch an unforgettable sunset.
If you want to capture the true Nepenthe experience (and you're not averse to eating meat), soak up the view while you munch on a legendary Ambrosia Burger.
Of course, you can make a facsimile of the Ambrosia Burger at home - the recipe is right there on the Nepenthe Web site. And you can eat it while catching the view from a Web cam on the same site. But there's nothing like being there in person