About a month ago, we had a meal at Juniper & Ivy with a group of friends. Unfortunately for my friends, this was during the time Chef Blais was filming Hunger Games and Top Chef and was not in the kitchen that night. Most of the evening still went smoothly, but a few of his dishes did suffer, I think, in his absence.
Since we sat at the chef’s counter, we were given some cheese gougères to whet our appetite.
Carlsbad Luna Oysters
Next came Chef Blais’ play on oysters and pearls. The oysters are served with horseradish pearls frozen with liquid nitrogen. This is usually one of my favorites. While it was still good, the pearls weren’t as frozen as our previous visits and so they melted pretty fast.
Cherry Bomb Poppers
Red peppers, stuffed with pimento cream cheese, are fried and dressed up like cherries. They are reminiscent of jalapeno poppers, but creamier and so adorable with their cherry shape and stem.
Carne Cruda Asada
One of the few dishes that has remained a staple on the menu and one of my favorites. I really love how the dish looks. The minced raw beef is creamy and slightly spicy from the cotija and jalapeno. The fried quail egg ties it all together.
Weiser Farm Potatoes
This breakfast potato dish was a little bit of a disappointment. Perhaps if I had eaten everything together, I might appreciate more, but since we were sharing, I only had parts of the dish and it just didn’t seem very special.
Juniper & Ivy still makes my favorite buttermilk biscuit in San Diego. It’s incredibly rich, fluffy and buttery.
General Tso’s Sweetbread
This was one of our favorite bites of the night. I just wish there was more. For $16, I would have liked more than 4 tiny bites of fried sweetbread. The sweetbreads were lightly battered and fried, and prepared Asian style, with a sweet and savory General Tso’s sauce, and accompanied by chili cashews and crisp green beans.
Marin Sun Farms Suckling Pig
The duo of pig was also quite enjoyable. Again, we found the portions far too small, especially since these small plates are meant for sharing.
This, unfortunately, was a miss for us. The lamb was cooked down so much that we couldn’t really taste that it was lamb, making this just seem like regular overpriced carnitas.
Off the Menu In n Haute Burger
I ordered the burger last time, and if you recall, I sang accolades about the thrice cooked fries, which are prepared over several days. When the dish arrived, I knew something was wrong. We only had about half the amount of fries we had last time and they looked brown rather than golden yellow.
The fries were a huge disappointment. They did not taste anything like the fries we previously had. While the fries we had previously were some of the best I’ve ever had, these were not even decent fries. They were salty, starchy, and not crunchy. We didn’t even finish them. My friends were looking at me like I was crazy for praising the fries, and I had to keep insisting that these were not the same fries as before. I’m not sure what happened.
Not only were the fries wrong, but so was the ketchup. Gone was the kimchi ketchup. Ours just tasted like regular ketchup.
The burger was still pretty good, but at the end of the day, it’s basically a gourmet version of an In-n-Out burger.
The pasta was al dente, which I liked. I also really enjoyed the sweet corn filling.
This is our favorite dessert here. It’s a rich, chocolate dessert, full of texture. The dessert starts with a hollow chocolate cylinder. It’s filled with devil’s cake crumbs, fruit, crispy wafer chocolate balls and brittle. It’s drizzled with hot chocolate, which breaks open the chocolate shell.
This was a pretty refreshing dessert. There was blueberry meringue, nitro yogurt, and sherbert.
I still enjoyed our meal overall, but there were some misses. Next time, hopefully Chef Blais will be in the kitchen again. My previous meal at Juniper & Ivy can be found here.
Juniper & Ivy
2228 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101