Speaking to Eater by phone after a recent friends and family preview, Richard Blais saw a shooting star streak across the night sky above his new restaurant Ember & Rye, which overlooks the golf club at Carlsbad’s Park Hyatt Aviara. The North County resort, which recently underwent a $50 million-plus remodel, includes several new restaurants but none more high-profile than Blais’s follow-up to Juniper & Ivy.
The sighting of a shooting star could be interpreted as another piece of good fortune for the restaurant, which is lucky to have scheduled its official public opening for this Thursday, March 18, a day after the return of indoor dining to San Diego County. The restaurant will now be able to open with nearly 200 seats, a timely advantage since there are already 100 reservations on the books every evening for the next two weeks.
Blais, who describes Ember & Rye as a “not-your-parents’ country club-meets-modern steakhouse,” has set up multiple cooking stations beyond the main kitchen, including an outdoor grill on the patio and a tapas bar where chefs will prepare a rotating selection of snacks, including Blais’s trademark oysters and pearls, topped with beads of frozen leche de tigre made using his signature liquid nitrogen technique.
The snack section also includes the unexpected and playful flavor combo of radishes and white chocolate as well as pimento cheese sandwiches made to honor the Augusta National’s famous dish. For the sandwiches, Ember & Rye’s team presses them between white bread into circular disks that resemble Uncrustables.
Here are some of Ember & Rye’s other foundational dishes.
Caviar & pancakes: Blais says this luxurious dish is his favorite on the menu, pairing caviar with creme fraiche flavored with charred embers from the outdoor grill and his take on taiyaki, Japanese fish-shaped pancakes that are typically filled with sweet red bean paste. At Ember, the pancakes are prepared unfilled with buckwheat batter, replacing the traditional buckwheat blini that comes with caviar.
Avocado “toast”ada: This play on the ubiquitous avocado toast is topped with tuna tartare and showcases more of the molecular gastronomy that Blais’s fans clamor for. The yellow egg yolk is actually a sphere of mango puree that properly oozes when broken into.
Scotch egg: A modern foam of whipped maple syrup is served alongside Blais’s version of this classic bar snack, which here is a deep fried soft-boiled egg encased in chicken sausage and dipped in homemade hot sauce.
Beef tartare: Blais’s beef tartare at Juniper & Ivy became one of its most popular dishes, but Ember & Rye’s rendition has a completely different flavor profile. The meat is seasoned with a homemade version of Catalina dressing, a throwback ketchup-based sauce, and served with a hot fried egg.
Flannery Beef ribeye: Though Ember & Rye’s beef options range from an A5 Japanese Wagyu sirloin to bacon-wrapped filet mignon, four menu lines are dedicated to ribeye steaks, Blais’s preferred cut. Sourced from the Brandt Beef ranch and dry-aged by acclaimed butcher shop Flannery Beef, they vary in size and age, from the 30-ounce, 14-day aged “Thor’s Hammer Cut” (Blais is a Marvel fan) to the “Storm Breaker Cut”, a giant 40-ounce tomahawk that can feed four to five people.
7100 Aviara Resort Drive, Carlsbad. Hours: daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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