Has the Juniper & Ivy team hit another home run? Conceived by Juniper Hospitality owner Michael Rosen, partner/celebrity chef and 'Top Chef' judge Richard Blais and the group behind the thriving Little Italy restaurant, The Crack Shack is their entry into the casual realm with a concept that's made to multiply while bringing a fine dining chef's sensibility to accessible yet thoughtful and relatively fast food.
Its flagship, designed by Bluemotif Architecture and spanning more that 4,000-square-feet at the corner of Kettner and Juniper, officially debuts to the public on November 11 (though maybe sooner) with seating for 150. The all-outdoor eatery, aiming to be a new hangout spot for the neighborhood with added enhancements that include a bocce ball court and a fireplace, will be open from 7 a.m to 10 p.m. daily.
The kitchen, run by chef de cuisine Bradley Austin and powered by what executive chef Jon Sloan calls "the Lamborghini of deep fryers", will cook a menu centered around chicken, from fried organic Jidori birds available in half or whole portions accompanied by handful of housemade sauces to chicken oysters (the tender prized nuggets that flank the backbone) and chicken croquettes. There will be also deviled eggs, Mexican poutine that tops chicken fat-fried French fries with pollo asada and jalapeño cheese whiz, soft serve ice cream in flavors from smoked vanilla to mole, and savory sandwiches that include The Royale, a stack of chicken sausage, fried egg and smoked cheddar on a housemade English muffin. On the slightly lighter side are salads that range from a Thai Cobb salad with goat cheese, bacon, egg and Thai dressing to a Baja chopped salad with romaine, radish, cotija cheese, cilantro and charred poblano dressing. The beverage program, curated by Eric Johnson, includes beer and wine on tap plus carefully crafted cocktails.
Ordering at The Crack Shack will be done via the front counter or bar, with food and drink delivered with expedience. The entire menu will be also available for online ordering and takeout, with four 15 minute parking spaces reserved for pickups.
Rosen tells Eater that he intends to grow the recognizably scaleable concept; though no new locations have been named, we're placing our bets on La Jolla or North County.