[Photos: Mike Newton]
One of Eater's most anticipated restaurants in the nation officially introduces itself to San Diego today. Juniper & Ivy, a partnership between Top Chef's Richard Blais, Michael Rosen of Juniper Hospitality and the Atlanta-based Concentrics Restaurants begins dinner service tonight. The 7,500-square-foot restaurant includes a two-story wine wall, a private dining room, an outdoor patio and one seriously swoon-worthy open kitchen.
The bar, which opens at 4 p.m. is presided over by Jen Queen, whose cocktail alchemy is on display in drinks that incorporate absinthe cotton candy and bone marrow-infused bourbon; a gutsy wine list from sommelier Tami Wong encourages palates to take a "leap of faith" into more esoteric varietals.
At 5 p.m., Richard Blais will take the stage along with his chef de cuisine, Jon Sloan. Blais' self-described "restless mind" will be reflected in Juniper & Ivy's ever-changing menu of produce, meat and seafood sourced from the West Coast. Among the closer-to-home ingredients: Carlsbad oysters, Suzie's Farm and Crows Pass produce and nasturtiums foraged from Blais' own backyard. Sloan says that he and Blais will custom tailor their "4 x 4" (4 snacks, 4 plates) chef tasting to each table; one catch, your entire party must go all in for the $69 menu.
Eight to fifteen of the restaurant's 160 seats will have a ringside view of the action in the kitchen; for now, the kitchen will close at 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends, but the restaurant tells Eater that they'd like to extend into late night dining.
According to general manager Dan Pena, the restaurant is nearly booked solid with reservations until next week, but they will be setting aside some seats for walk-ins. Have a first look at the menu below: