Expected to be a contender upon arrival, Paradisaea is hoping to bring destination dining to Bird Rock when it touches down on La Jolla Boulevard this September. At 4,500-square-feet, it’ll be the neighborhood’s largest restaurant to-date, and previously shared renderings of its remodeled historic building show a mid-century modern space decorated in warm, tropical hues that invoke the island habitat of the exotic birds of paradise that the restaurant is named for.
Planning to offer dinner service from Wednesday through Saturday starting at 3 p.m. as well as brunch and early supper on Sundays, Paradisaea boasts culinary director Mark Welker, who spent over 10 years in the orbit of New York City’s acclaimed Eleven Madison Park and NoMad and chef de cuisine Gabriel Bonis, who cooked at Nine-Ten in La Jolla for the past decade and has worked at other well-known kitchens like Cowboy Star and Rancho Valencia.
Their menu, broadly defined as California cuisine, will range from Baja oysters with frozen passion fruit sangrita and halibut crudo with Thai basil, finger lime, cherries, and chili oil to Dungeness crab tagliatelle with local sea urchin, tomato, saffron, and Meyer lemon and wagyu beef nachos with guacamole mousse and cheddar-jack fondue.
Larger plate options will include a burger as well as poached white sea bass in a green chili-Szechuan peppercorn broth, a pastured roast chicken with chimichurri, and a Liberty Duck breast with duck fat French fries, and sauce au poivre. Desserts by Welker, an experienced pastry chef, include a sundae layered with milk soft-serve, honey oat shortbread, bee pollen, and warm citrus-honey caramel and a mud pie made with Dark Horse Coffee ice cream, cocoa cookie crumbs, and macadamia nut bavarois.
Bird Rock is also getting its first serious cocktail spot, with a list by beverage director Dannika Underhill (Kindred, Craft & Commerce) that ranges from creative zero proof drinks to classic, refreshing, and tropical concoctions. The Jewel is gin sour that features custom-made Plymouth-style gin with notes of juniper, pink peppercorns, and citrus from local Seven Caves Spirits while the strikingly blue Neon Waves combines Baja-inspired gin with a sugarcane spirit from Mexico, blue curacao, soursop, bergamot, and aromatized banana dust. Underhill’s tributes to tiki include a Mai Tai as well as the Painkiller-esque Tiger Cruise, which features Filipino flavors like ube, calamansi, coconut, and Kasama rum from the Philippines, and the inky-toned Lobster Lounge, a mix of lychee-infused vodka, housemade passion fruit aperitif, lime, guava, hibiscus, and coconut ash.
Owners and longtime La Jollans Eric and Zoe Kleinbub are also opening an adjacent cafe dubbed Dodo Bird Donuts that will feature a coffee menu from La Jolla microroaster Simple Beans Co. and Dark Horse Coffee Roasters plus breakfast sandwiches and doughnuts along with a retail store called Tropical Punch that will offer home, beauty, and fashion goods.