HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >

Discussion

Atlanta Chef Richard Blais Opening "Juniper & Ivy" in February

looks interesting...will be based at Juniper and Ivy in 'Northern' Little Italy (I guess somewhere in the vicinity of Ballast Point. Guy is known as the 'liquid nitrogen and molecular gastronomy chef'.

http://sandiego.eater.com/tags/junipe...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
    1. Tableside nitrogen cocktails!

      Move over, Denver.

      1. Little Italy is seeing so much change lately. Will be interesting to see how Blais's new restaurant holds up.

        1. Personally, I'm excited to see this open. Blais was one of my favorites when I watched Top Chef (before it jumped the proverbial shark). While I think molecular gastronomy can be fun, I hope it's not the focus of this new restaurant.

          2 Replies
            1. re: Dagney

              Yes, but I'd put him more in more of the Voltaggio group of Top Chefs than the Malarkey group

          1. Looking very forward to this. There's a definite lack of modernist cuisine in this city.

            1. As relocated Atlantans, we're thrilled RIchard is coming west. We were big fans before Top Chef, went to all his many restaurants, including a 31 course tasting menu at his eponymous restaurant Blais (short-lived and way ahead of its time in Atlanta).

              Don't define Blais as just a "molecular gastronomist"; while innovative and modernist, he is also the most talented chef overall that I have ever experienced. Eating at his restaurants is a unique experience.

              Hopefully he won't be restrained in presentation at Juniper and Ivy, and goes all out with his innovative cuisine.

              6 Replies
              1. re: RdBchAndy

                Thanks for your first hand insight.

                1. re: foodiechick

                  All our favorite Atlanta chefs are following us out here. Nicolas Bour (Avant, formerly of Iris in Atlanta) here also.

                  1. re: RdBchAndy

                    What restaurant did he have in Atlanta?... Many years ago I used to love Panos & Paul and the "Peasant" restaurants.... They still around?

                    1. re: El Chevere

                      Iris.... it was in a very sketchy part of East Atlanta in a renovated gas station. The food was amazing and it was a major foodie destination, but the semi-dangerous location kept the masses away. I think the final straw was when a vendor got killed in the parking lot.

                      I had the sad pleasure of being at Iris the night it closed. A very drunk Nicolas bemoaned that he was sure "the Cheesecake Factory was full that night"

                      Both Panos & Paul and Peasant Bistro are closed. That said, Atlanta has developed into an excellent restaurant town.

                      1. re: RdBchAndy

                        it was an excellent restaurant town, as far as I was concerned, when I was a student there in the 80's.

                2. re: RdBchAndy

                  31 flavors menu from the original BLAIS Restaurant in Atlanta circa 2005

                   
                   
                3. Update on grand opening--looks like Monday, March 3:

                  http://sandiego.eater.com/archives/20...

                  1. I'm intrigued by the "I would love to do a 25-seat restaurant that doesn't make any money" comment.

                    http://sandiego.eater.com/archives/20...

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: DougOLis

                      I like his attitude and spirit, and I wish this restaurant and his other projects well.

                      He was indirect about it, but it sounds like he himself won't be in the kitchen at J&I all that much beyond the initial honeymoon period.

                      And maybe he's right about the 25-seat thing. For his concepts, anyway.

                      1. re: DoctorChow

                        Did you guys notice this piece? :

                        "What's your impression so far of San Diego, food-wise, and why do you think it rarely attracts national attention?

                        There's no reason why it can't get national attention, there's tons of talent here. To be honest, I think there's a gap in the market; there are some really amazing white tablecloth fine dining spots and then there's another level of restaurant that's really fun and high-design, where the cocktails are great and the food's just good enough. There's a gap between those two and hopefully Juniper & Ivy can fit in there.

                        Why can't San Diego go through the renaissance that Los Angeles has over the last five years or be as good as San Francisco?

                        It's not the products, it's not the cooks, it's not the diner, so there's no reason why San Diego can't be as good as LA"

                        If he's correct in his observations, and if his organization can bring a lot of resources into the scene to bridge that gap, it could be great for San Diego.

                        1. re: jayporter

                          I won't speak for Doug of course, but yes, I noticed that part. More power to him and his group. Time will tell.

                          1. re: DoctorChow

                            Well, the announcement got the kids interested.
                            They got their first taste of molecular gastronomy at Jaleo last November, and now they want more.

                              1. re: The Office Goat

                                How was Jaleo? I went to é in January and wasn't that impressed. I felt like there wasn't much passion in the cooking and it was pretty boring compared to comparable meals I've had in Spain itself. Way overpriced mediocre wine pairings as well.

                                1. re: DougOLis

                                  It was good. It's been a few months, and I don't remember everything about the meal at the moment (had paella, shrimp, octopus, liquid olives, ham and pork about 9 ways, solid desserts), but we all enjoyed it.
                                  A bonus was dining on a fully-functional but artistically altered foosball table, which made the dinner for the 4 of us more fun than I was expecting.

                                  It was a great night, and everything was well prepared and tasty, but still pricey and "special-occasiony."
                                  Given a choice between dinner at Jaleo once or Viva las Arepas 15 times, I might go for the arepas. ;-)

                                   
                                   
                                   
                                  1. re: The Office Goat

                                    awwwww! Too precious!

                                    How was the paella? I was a little jealous we didn't get to try any in é; especially when they'd ring the bell and yell out.

                                    1. re: DougOLis

                                      Very good. IIRC it had rabbit on that night. I don't think my daughter knows yet that it was rabbit - I think she said "the chicken is really good."

                                      1. re: The Office Goat

                                        I think she said "the chicken is really good."

                                        ----------------

                                        Adorable.

                        2. re: DougOLis

                          I'm intrigued by the "I would love to do a 25-seat restaurant that doesn't make any money" comment.
                          ________________________________

                          He should talk to Brian Malarkey, he seems to have that niche down pretty good.

                        3. Apparently, the first featured beverage on the molecular cocktail menu will be an "adult beer float" made with gin, cucumber-mint water and a raspberry lambic.

                          (Note to infuriated self: Lambics aren't made in SD. How dare they source an ingredient, particularly beer, from outside the county!!!!)

                          Looks like they also have a machine that will barrel-age a cocktail in just a few hours via the magic of ultrasonic sound waves. Yes, the obvious joke here is that this is a very long time to wait for a drink.

                          They also used the term house-made arugula soda.

                          http://sandiego.eater.com/archives/20...

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                            I saw that too. This aspect of J&I is a turnoff for me. I wish Blais had left the weird-science cocktail thing in Atlanta and just focused on original food concepts here.

                            1. re: DoctorChow

                              What's weird about it ? They are using the SonicPrep Homogenizer from Polyscience which is just a standard tool. Are you also thinking sous-vide is voodoo magic ?

                              1. re: honkman

                                OH!

                                Being Homogenized with a Polyscience SonicPrep makes me SO ANGRY!

                                 
                                  1. re: DoctorChow

                                    We really need a like button on this forum. That would definitely cut down a bit on the "chit chat", but we have no way other than a response to acknowledge the excellence of Fakey's post.

                                    1. re: RB Hound

                                      Well, there IS the "recommend" button, which is kind of like a "like".

                                      See -- I just did it to FN's post.

                                      (OK, yours too...)

                                  2. re: Fake Name

                                    love...LOVE that character. Time will tell if Juniper and Ivy is all a bunch of whoop dee whoop or if the food has some actual flavor and legs.

                              2. Call me old school but I have no desire to drink or eat anything molecular.
                                I can go to è at the Cosmo in Vegas for that.
                                As a native SD, the left coast cookery motto, IMO, will not sit well with some.

                                I do wish them all the best.

                                29 Replies
                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                  The "left coast" thing is another thing I think J&I would be well to drop. It has that disparaging "fruit and nuts" ring to it. Cutsie double meaning.

                                  Otherwise, as I said earlier, I also wish them well.

                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                    I thought you wrote you like eating at Georges, Kitchen 1540, Rancho Valencia (to name a few) - all of these restaurants use molecular/modern cuisine. Juniper & Ivy might make a bigger buzz out of it but they are by far not the first ones in SD to work in that way.

                                    1. re: honkman

                                      Do Georges, Kitchen 1540, etc. "barrel-age" a cocktail with ultrasound? Do they make nitrogen cocktails?

                                      These are the kinds of "molecular" things that seem gimmicky (and silly) to me.

                                      1. re: DoctorChow

                                        I have seen nitrogen cocktails at Kitchen 1540 and Georges. And in the kitchen they definitely use all the tools Juniper & Ivy is using

                                        1. re: honkman

                                          Well, OK, I'll stand down then. But I still think things could get carried away at J&I.

                                          1. re: DoctorChow

                                            I never understand this approach from customers to "new" things and feel that it is one of the main reasons why chefs in SD are not willing to cook outside of the burger/shortrib menu and everything is pretty stagnant. A technique like sous-vide, liq. N2, transaminase etc. is no different than a technique like braising or sauteeing. A chef will use any technique to achieve a certain results (texture, flavor etc) and not just to use the technique because it is fancy. So why are you are not also afraid that J&I "could get carried away" because they use braising (or any other "old fashioned" technique"). Any technique is just a tool to achieve a desired final product. A newer technique is not better or worse than an older technique only final dishes are better or worse than your preference/expectations indepently of the used technique.

                                            1. re: honkman

                                              I was referring ONLY to the cocktails, Honkman, if you'll look back at my reply to Stiflers-Mom, not the method of FOOD preparation or the equipment used.

                                              Yeah, I think liquid nitrogen is weird. My opinion, and I'm sticking to it.

                                              I'd like to see J&I get off to a good start, frankly, and don't think that the quirky cocktail thing will help establish the kind of public image that they'd like to have. A lot of people are going to just chuckle at that. And as I also said, I think they should quietly drop the "left coast" handle, which will not have people chuckling; it'll leave some people put off, like BC said.

                                              I definitely plan to visit J&I and hope to enjoy it. I'll just stick to a classic martini.

                                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                                What's the problem with liq N2 ? - Again just a tool for a desired final product

                                                1. re: honkman

                                                  Nothing is wrong with it. And if that's what Blais & Co. want to do, then fine. I just personally think it's a bit on the gimmicky side, and I suspect there others like me, unspoken, who feel the same.

                                                  1. re: DoctorChow

                                                    You know what - I bet you could make one hell of a KraftBeerFetishShake with liquid nitrogen and heavy cream.

                                                2. re: DoctorChow

                                                  I will have to admit, it was 4:20 at my house when I read that Eater article and I chuckled very heartily at some of the potions, descriptors and general "this is my take on...." attitude of the article. I have no issues with the molecular, let's huck some dry ice in this shiznitz and watch it explode shenanigans and if people want to pay for that, let em - but as the good doctor said, i will probably stick with something more classic during my first visit.

                                                  On a side note, I have tried both the Schweppes and the Von's house brand arugula club soda before and I am glad they went the "house-made" route on this one.

                                                  1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                                    " I have no issues with the molecular, let's huck some dry ice in this shiznitz and watch it explode shenanigans..." - Have you ever actual worked with some of the "modernist cuisine" ingredients and what they are used for ? You would be surprised that they actual are not for show but have a legitimate purposes, e.g. liq N2 freezes stuff in a consistence you will have problems to achieve otherwise. Sorry to pound on this topic but I am surprised how much people think all of this is just only use for "gimmicky" reasons.

                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                      Yes, i have and i am sure my account at Modernist Pantry is older than yours (na na boo boo). In fact, i was one of the lucky few who got an edible version of Modernist Cuisine when it was first released. The pages were made of mirin and some other top secret ingredients that I can't quite recall at this moment. You would eat the page after you read it. I remember one page that made me turn all blue like Veruca Salt in WW and the Chocolate Factory. Keeeee-razy.

                                                      Sorry for oversimplifying with my blow it up shiznitz comment - personally, i find the whole craft cocktail scene much more gimmicky than the MC thing. Sorry to use the word thing.

                                                  2. re: DoctorChow

                                                    DC, I've gotta agree with Herr H on this one. I think there is a market out there that does have more than a passing interest in barrel aged cocktails, liquid nitrogen cocktails and any other weird and wonderful molecular, or not, concoctions. I think they're young, hip and willing to experiment and spend the $$$ to try them. In addition to our rousing and well publicized center-of-the-universe beer culture/scene, San Diego has quietly become a city with an strong and interesting cocktail culture as well.

                                                    Heck, I'm an old fart and I'm curious about some of the N2 drinks and I've been really curious about barrel aged cocktails for a while now. I even think it would be an interesting comparison to have their bartender make the classic version of one of their new-fangled, speed barrel aged cocktails and compare them side-by-side to see what, if any, difference or nuances my palate could detect.

                                                    As far as the food prep goes, I say bring it on. As long as the techniques they're using make sense in the context of the dish, and aren't some contrived fusion of food and technique (i.e. sous-vide whale steak fish tacos, for instance), why not.

                                                    I am so tired of the homogeneous and safe braised short ribs, grilled salmon/halibut, hangar steak menus around town. It's time for something new and different. I for one hope that J&I is a great success and moves SD in some more creative directions. To be sure, there will be items that don't work and have to come off the menu, but I'm hoping that those will be few and don't end up being replaced with dumbed down versions of the same old/same old. Why do we have to go the LA, SF, Las Vegas or even, god forbid Phoenix, for creative dining?

                                                    So, who's buying the first round of N2 drinks? DC?

                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                      OK, I give. I'll buy the first round. :)

                                                      1. re: DoctorChow

                                                        If you first want to try conventionally barrel-aged cocktails Grant Grill is making very good ones. Are you still buying the first round ?

                                                        1. re: honkman

                                                          Ha! So now we have Grant Grill in the mix. (So to speak.)

                                                          Hmmmmm....a cocktail crawl. Let me think on that.

                                                          So it's Grant Grill for the "conventional" barrel-aged" cocktail.

                                                          Then the same thing at J&I, unconventional.

                                                          Then a N2 cocktail at J&I.

                                                          I'm feeling inebriated just writing this.

                                          2. re: honkman

                                            My bad..
                                            Wishing Richard all the best and look forward to dining at his new venture.

                                          3. re: Beach Chick

                                            It's posts like these that make me wonder if there is no hope for San Diego

                                            1. re: DougOLis

                                              What the hell is that supposed to mean?

                                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                                I think he was saying that the "I'm not trying anything different" attitude may be a good part of the problem in San Diego.

                                                1. re: RB Hound

                                                  Yeah, that's exactly what I meant. Seeing a regular and well respected contributor the SD Chow board write off something that is trying to be a little different and expand the San Diego culinary repertoire immediately was a little disheartening.

                                                  The best of molecular gastronomy/modernist cuisine is about bringing in new techniques and tools, not about gimmicks. And while most of the tools are well out of the home cook's price range, they're often not much different than say using a blender or something. Not that weird; just not what most people have. Or a pressure cooker for crying out loud.

                                                  While Richard Blais was known as the "liquid nitrogen and molecular gastronomy chef" on Top Chef, he also was known for just cooking really good food most of the time. That's what distinguished him from the other chefs who were just trying to use molecular gastronomy as a gimmick. Most people thought he should have won his season, but the girl he did wind up losing to (Stephanie Izard) has gone on to great success and renown in Chicago (for Girl and the Goat).

                                                  I also really hope that BC isn't judging all of molecular gastronomy/modernist cuisine on the merits of è. That was by far one of the most mediocre, uninspiring and overpriced molecular meals I've ever had. It can be much much much better than that in the hands of the correct caring chef.

                                                2. re: Beach Chick

                                                  I think, at least for me, the problem is this generalization of "molecular gastonomy". The level of utilization of modernist cuisine tools in most high end restaurants is equally high and covers such a broad range of restaurants from Kitchen 1504, French Laundry, Providence, Coi, L'Atelier etc. etc. Saying in this general term not being "a big fan of molecular gastronomy" and at the same time saying that you were at "most of the top restaurants around the world" is like saying you hate all restaurant serving vegetables because you had one restaurant serving you a lousy carrot dish.

                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                    I've never heard of Richard Blais and when El Chevre's initial post states that he is known as the 'Guy is known as the 'liquid nitrogen and molecular gastronomy chef'.'

                                                    The liquid nitrogen comment gave me great pause since all I can think of is the late 80's and food being cryogenically prepared...with the dry ice effect et al.

                                                    To be honest, I think molecular gastronomy has evolved, obviously, since the 80's and that quite a lot of chefs use this technique for everyday use but imo, molecular gastronomy/liquid nitrogen, has a stigma attached from the dry ice, smoke plates of the late 80's & 90's.

                                                    After reading his twitter and FB page, I must say he will not make a lot of friends in SD, if he address us as 'Cali' and hopefully, will lose the motto 'Left Coast Cookery' ..whatever that is supposed to mean.

                                                    I do look forward to eating and drinking at Juniper & Ivy and wishing he and his staff, only the best.

                                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                                      Don't feel bad BC, I hear liquid nitrogen and it just brings back memories of going to the dermatologist as a teenager to have my zits frozen off with the stuff!

                                                      Kind of nice to see it has another application ;-) Although it was quite the effect zit zapper back in the day...

                                                        1. re: DiningDiva

                                                          LOL..
                                                          Forgot all about that little cylinder that the Dermatologist would bring out..

                                                    2. re: Beach Chick

                                                      I can also go to Vegas to eat at Viva las Arepas, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't love to have a VLA to visit in San Diego that doesn't require I get a hotel room as part of the bill. ;-)

                                                3. Went last night, The kitchen set-up is unmatched by any in SD. Which is not hard to do in this town. The team behind Chef Blais is All-Star like none this town has seen before. Many San Diego Chefs were in last night and from what I saw (as if it matters) this is going to be a great place. The dinning room set up is not cramped, The chairs are very nice to sit in, the booths are right and you dont sink in. What i mean is, i have been to openings where it seems they bought OLDER booths, re-covered em and your butt falls into a hole where you need a booster seat. The small trays of snacks that were past around, seemed to be full of flavors and freshness, again, from what i saw, this place will be not only great dinning for those that want it, but a great place to mingle after work,,,

                                                   
                                                  11 Replies
                                                  1. re: bluefin2na

                                                    Thanks for posting....Looks great (and actually looks from pics they might even have a unique concept for SD--good bread with your meal)....just checked with a friend of mine who was there last night as well--going again on Monday and I will be joining his party.

                                                    1. re: bluefin2na

                                                      "your butt falls into a hole where you need a booster seat."

                                                      I'd think that'd be a weight issue ; )

                                                      1. re: bluefin2na

                                                        I saw a lot of photos come across my Facebook page last night from chefs and others that were there. Food looked good, and I'll have to agree, from the photos, the kitchen looks very interesting.

                                                        Will be anxious to try it

                                                          1. re: El Chevere

                                                            Wow. Looks wonderful. I'll anticipate your report next week :-)

                                                        1. re: bluefin2na

                                                          Has anyone been able to make reservations to this place? According to their twitter, they're supposed to be on Open Table, but thats not the case at the moment.

                                                          1. re: alcoholic29

                                                            I called yesterday and was able to make reservations for both Monday and Wednesday nights. It took me a while to find the number but it is (619) 269-9036.

                                                            1. re: alcoholic29

                                                              They posted on Facebook about an hour ago that Open Table is up and ready.

                                                              1. re: foodiechick

                                                                Just made reservations. Excited to go!

                                                            2. re: bluefin2na

                                                              What's the parking situation like--which we all know sucks in any part of Little Italy....does the restaurant offer valet parking??

                                                              Thanks

                                                              1. re: honkman

                                                                Thanks. Edward Snowden would be very proud of you.

                                                                1. re: honkman

                                                                  The menu is also up on their website now. I am rather interested in checking out their tasting menu...

                                                                  1. re: shouzen

                                                                    That's also the part I am mostly interested in but I am hoping it can be extended beyond their current four-course one

                                                                  2. re: honkman

                                                                    Is it bad that my first thought on reviewing the menu is "I hope they imported the 'ocean water' in which they cook their potatoes"?

                                                                    Still anxious to try this spot, based on everything else I've seen from Blaise.

                                                                    1. re: phee

                                                                      That's the same reaction I had. Don't know that I'd use the local ocean water for cooking purposes...

                                                                      1. re: phee

                                                                        Along the same line of thought, I was wondering where they get their Torrey Pine needles...

                                                                        The menu does have a lot of "local" to it -- and lots of interest.

                                                                        1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                          That Yodel dessert has my name all over it.

                                                                    2. The and I just got home from our meal. It was really fun and the food ranged from good to great. We had...

                                                                      Raw yellow tail in ocean water
                                                                      Charred grapes on toast with ricotta
                                                                      Strawberry salad with balsamic pearls
                                                                      Arctic char with pumpernickel puree and passion fruit brown butter
                                                                      Strip steak with smoked potatoes and kimchi ketchup
                                                                      Yodel with Bird Rock Coffee french press

                                                                      My favorite was the grapes on toast and my wife's favorite was the strawberry salad.

                                                                      Both main courses were really, really good.

                                                                      The yellow tail was probably our least favorite, but by no means bad. We though it need a bit of salt.

                                                                      The table next to us let us try their pasta with uni butter and razor clams and we will probably be ordering that next time.

                                                                      Our server, Michael, was outstanding as was his help.

                                                                      There is bar seating up against the open kitchen so try and ask to sit there if you can.

                                                                      Chef Blais was going around to all the tables and was very kind.

                                                                      It was a great night. One of the best meals we have had in San Diego since Chef Luke was cooking at Red Velvet.