For all his experience and accolades, Richard Blais says he’s never been more nervous heading into a new project as he is about Ember & Rye, his second local restaurant opening this spring at the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad. The culinary world is looking to see if he can repeat the instant success of Juniper & Ivy, the Little Italy restaurant which first brought him to San Diego, and Blais tells Eater that he’s feeling the pressure that goes along with sophomore efforts.
The celebrity chef, who is no longer affiliated with Juniper & Ivy but remains an investor in The Crack Shack chain, says that as a golf nut he was smitten by Ember & Rye’s location overlooking Aviara Golf Club, which gives it the feel of a stand-alone restaurant but with the resources of a well-established resort.
After hunkering down in his Del Mar home throughout the pandemic, Blais seems excited to finally get into the Carlsbad restaurant this week, where he describes the vibe as “not your parents’ country club-meets-steakhouse”. He’s starting to fine-tune the menu, based on steaks and other proteins cooked on an outdoor wood-fired grill with vegetable sides and different sauce offerings, and promises it will include dishes that ring of Richard Blais — so expect liquid nitrogen to make an appearance. Offering lunch and dinner, the restaurant will feature a cocktail bar that will also function as a chef-staffed snack bar serving oysters, caviar, and other small bites.
The ‘Top Chef’ winner, who will be appearing as a guest judge on the upcoming Portland season, says that Ember & Rye is currently planned to debut in March with the hope that on-site dining will return by then.