Recently I was taken to a beautiful little town called Pescadero. It was a warm and clear day, thanks to the bizarre anti-winter California is experiencing this year. We drove up Highway 1, through the high drama of cliffs and lighthouses, then turned just a tiny bit inland to get to miniature little Pescadero. With lush green mountains on three sides and the ocean on the fourth, it’s the kind of scenery that’s so movie-perfect I have trouble believing I’m in a real place. Is this why I was taken to Duarte’s, an exceedingly normal, dimly lit diner without even the option of a table with a view? Was my hostess responding to our common, subconscious need for a grounding element? What she said was that the food would be so good I wouldn’t mind. It was good, really good even, but the competition was unfair. Perfect, clear mountain and ocean view on a sunny day versus a very nicely cooked piece of fish will not, for me, ever cause much moral dilemma. Next time I head that way, I’m going to the deli across the street, the one with picnic benches in an open field. Even if I end up sitting there with a bag of chips and an apple, I can’t imagine feeling disappointed. Still, I’m glad to be able to pass on knowledge of this nice-enough little restaurant. Should the need for sensory stabilization arise on your visit to Pescadero, Duarte’s fish is very, very good and there’s a full bar.