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Juniper and Ivy / First visit impressions

Went on their second night open to the public after 3 soft openings on successive nights last week.

Impressive, attractive building from the outside at night. $5 valet parking, which is a real convenience in that area of Kettner. You drive into a driveway at the restaurant to leave car with valet, and are right at the front door.

Immediately greeted. We were 10 minutes early and asked to sit in spacious waiting area until table ready. Not a cocktail area, strictly waiting. No more than 3-4 minutes later the hostess told us our table was ready. We also got a text at the same time telling us table ready, which was a nice touch.

Dining room very crowded, but each table, including ours, looked to have plenty of space. Seating comfortable. Greeted within a minute or two by our server and water guy. Water choice is the usual still or sparkling, but it's not for sale--all on the house, and refilled throughout the meal as if it was for sale, which is to say constantly.

Strongly suggest reviewing the menu online before arrival, as there are so many delicious sounding items to choose from. We ordered in three stages: starters/bites first, then once those started arriving, ordered small and large plates, then finally dessert. Server made sure she knew what we wanted and when, and followed through.

Wine list: very well thought out; lots of small producers I'd never heard of; some interesting varietals like Gamay; prices seemed fair. All selections printed on the back side of the food menu. Anytime I see Gruner Veltliner on a list, I know the person who built it has some skill. A little off-putting was the detective work I had to employ to find champagne. All wines are listed grapes first, and under the heading "Fizzes" or some such was a "chardonnay/pinot noir LaSalle". This sounded like it might be champagne, but I had to ask to be sure. How about just telling me it's champagne on the list?

I won't go into great detail on the food, as it was only one visit and the 2nd night at that. The 3 of us, one of whom is a Chef, ordered the bag of olives, tuna tartare (excellent), carne asada crudo, charred grapes on cheese toast, shaved asparagus salad (creative, yummy, a keeper), grilled spot prawns (tasty but smallish), San Diego chicken (cleverly named after the old Padres mascot I'm sure), Pork "shorty", vegetable and grains plate, and a rhubarb tart, which the chef in our party felt was the best plate of the evening. Everything was at least good and the noted dishes were well beyond good.. The pork was a little under seasoned; the veggie dish came out with cold, room temp and hot portions, which was unintended. Overall quite good; nothing looked or tasted weird in a nuclear gastronomy kind of way. (I'm sure that may generate some agitation…sorry.)

One humorous moment; the first dish to arrive was a hermetically sealed bag of green olives placed before us in a small bowl by the young runner. He left, I picked up and pondered what to do with the sealed bag when the server noted this and called him back to release the olives into the bowl. Maybe the first bag of olives he'd served, who knows:)

Chef Blais came by to chat and was friendly and unaffected. We chatted for a good 3-4 minutes. Same with the GM, who dropped by towards the end of the meal.

The room was very noisy. Packed with diners at each table and people dining at each seat at the bar. Can't wait to dine in the outside patio during warmer weather. All in all, they've got their stuff together quite well at such an early stage, and it would seem hard not to have a positive experience.

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  1. Thanks for the encouraging report. Sounds like it's going to be a winner :-)

    1. When you say the room was very noisy, was it something that would give you great pause, next time for dinner?

      Sounds like you had a great time and aren't you the rock star lately..BOS, Kauai this week..have fun and dining in trendy new resto's in SD..


      5 Replies
      1. re: Beach Chick

        To me, it was very noisy, yet one could still converse without shouting, but barely. To my 30-ish son, the noise wasn't a problem at all. It wouldn't keep me away.

        1. re: mcgrath

          I don't believe there are any restaurants in Little Italy that isn't noisy, or at a minimum "rather lively".

          1. re: mcgrath

            Went today. It is good, not great. Shared about 8 appetizers/small dishes. The winner was the cornbread and the lemon parfait.

            The Carlsbad oysters were OK, not enough seawater to let them slide, so I had to give them a fork help.

            Kale salad was fine, but the seeweed was a bit much for me. The homemade dressing was delicious.

            Chicken oysters were very moist, but having them on a bed of strong smelling seeweed was just strange.

            The Jamon Iberico is first class quality, but you will not get much.

            The dessert was fantastic. Inexpensive and plentiful, butso yummy.

            Shared 3 cocktails and 1 glass of wine. The Keenan Merlot was very good, the cocktails just fine.

            Happy that we have new chefs coming to San Diego.

            1. re: 4wino

              "strong-smelling seaweed..."
              Wow, I wonder what variety. There are so many kinds of seaweed here in Japan, and none of them have any sort of strong smell. I wonder if the strong smell was the chicken oysters?

          2. re: Beach Chick

            For my wife and I, is was noisy enough to make conversation slightly more difficult than normal. If the food was so-so it would be enough of a bother to question returning, but for us the food was well worth it.

            Tangent: what's with san diego restaurants not caring about noise level at all?? I get the open rafters and reclaimed barnwood and all that, but throw some foam in those rafters or something.

          3. sounds good...thanks for the encouraging and thorough report....I am shooting for a visit Thursday, without reservations, for the bar area and/or community table.... a friend, owner of the largest wine bar in SD, attended opening night and suggests the biscuit, chicken oysters, and steak (he also sat besides Javier Plascencia who talked about his grand (re)opening of Finca Altozano in Guadalupe Valley).

            1. Thanks for posting the great report. Looking forward to trying it.

              1. Thank you!! On our list as well

                1. We have reservations for next week...a little short of my typical "minimum one month before we try a new restaurant" but that's ok. I just hope I can remember which street it is on in Little Italy.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: MrKrispy

                    on Kettner, between Juniper and Ivy (think about 3-4 blocks north of The Waterfront, on the same side of the street).

                      1. re: MrKrispy

                        I missed it too. Funny. Grant's Tomb et al.

                  2. GREAT report -- thanks! Looking forward to checking it out in a couple weeks.

                    1. Went for an early dinner this evening. Loved the food, had the dates, the beet salad, the shaved asparagus, the San Diego Chicken and the strip steak.

                      Not a clunker among them- very enjoyable food.

                      MrsName works nearby, and will return. But I might not.

                      Why not? It's exactly the kind of environment I can no longer tolerate. A big converted industrial building, tastefully decorated and designed with Big Scale Entertainment Value. And it's true, the place is beautiful, with a beautiful kitchen, plenty of well-considered sight lines etc.

                      And while the food is top-notch- among the best I've had in our town, it was the same, loud, overly-stimulating Foodisco I've come to avoid like a staph infection. It's not a place to go enjoy the pleasure of the company of others, except in a frat-house style. The opposite of intimacy.

                      I'm not cool enough to enjoy it.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Fake Name

                        I was concerned by mcgrath's comments about the noise level, and your experience corroborates both his and bradley's reports.

                        I have a pretty low tolerance to noise when I'm dining, which is exacerbated by a hearing problem, and so I guess I'll try to go after the initial grand-opening rush is past, when there might not be as many people (or maybe not so many highly excited people?).

                        But as of right now, it doesn't sound like a place that I'd want to go to for dinner with my companion. Too bad, because all indications so far on our board are that the food is quite good.

                        1. re: DoctorChow

                          a lot of restaurateurs seem to have this nightclub mindset that their target clientele must be 22 year olds who only will step inside because they happen to be walking by and hear the music. Or they read an internet business article that loud rooms turn tables faster (without ever mentioning the loss of repeat customers).

                          While I don't desire most restaurants to be a dimly lit, silent-as-a-graveyard space, I do enjoy being able to hear my dining companions and hear the wait staff. The whole concept is pretty dumb IMO.

                          1. re: MrKrispy

                            not as though 22 year old's will spend $100 on dinner, either...they are stupid enough to spend $400 for a $30 bottle of vodka that comes with a sofa called 'bottle service' inside a night club, but I've yet to seem them splurge on food at that age--unless restos are trying to compete with nightclubs....not sure......I'm trying to go tonight with a friend without reservations and will report back if I do.

                            1. re: El Chevere

                              I went last night and I did notice it to be loud upon entering but I soon forgot about it. I wouldn't say it was loud enough to distract from conversation. It is certainly not intimate although where we were sitting maybe so with the neighboring tables.

                      2. Just got back and had a very enjoyable meal/experience. Did not have reservations--which were limited for the first night or two to less than capacity to give the kitchen an opportunity to get its feet wet--but ended up sitting at a corner of the main bar as you walk in.....the facility also has a community table as well as small tables that seat 2-3 people that overlook the main dining area and a lounge area that does not accept reservations but are available to diners on a first come, first serve basis.

                        Started off with the biscuit that was very good, followed by the tuna tartare and a duck toast dish that were also very good before proceeding to the main courses. I had the steak which was quite good while my friend ordered the pork--he agreed with earlier posts about it being slightly overcooked (he ordered it medium, but would order it medium rare next time) but enjoyed the quality of the food....loved the presentation and plates they served the food on....washed down my steak with a glass of Bench Cabernet from Alexander Valley that was tastey and reasonably priced at $12 per glass.

                        The highlight was the 'yodel' devil cake dessert--exceptionally 'chocolately' and full of flavor...had the pleasure of being joined for most of our dinner at the bar with one of the key visionaries behind the project and had a great conversation. The noise level mentioned by some did not seem to bother me and I definitely plan on returning--next time, with a reservation, and in one of the sleek and sexy booths. Overall, a very positive experience.

                        14 Replies
                          1. re: El Chevere

                            Wow..haven't had a steak since 1973 but that sure looks good.
                            Great report.

                            1. re: Beach Chick

                              Should add you can order a burger that is not listed on the menu with ground chuck, sirloin, and one more blended cut of meat I cannot recall....the burger is how Blais laid his claim to fame.

                              1. re: El Chevere

                                I've always thought his signature burger at FLIP was a combination of short rib, brisket and chuck, but Blais has so many variations, who knows.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Someone needs to do a bayou burger with duck, gator, frog and nutria (boudin and a duck egg on top).

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    I could be wrong as I had a few glasses of wine in me at the time one of the principals behind the project shared that information with me, but that's what I thought I heard.

                                    1. re: El Chevere

                                      How was seating at the bar..others eating in the bar?

                                      I'm a booth chick and those booths in the main look fab or I love eating in the bar..

                                      The seats look comfortable and the bar stools as well..
                                      Love me a comfy seat!

                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                        your rear will actually sink in the padded bar stools--very comfortable....seating in the bar was first come first serve....not my first preference if I were to dine there (but beggars without reservations cannot be choosey)....you have to sacrifice a little bit of service if you wish to dine at the bar as you are competing for the bartender's attention while she/they were making cocktails....if you get a table, great....if not and you wish to dine at the bar a little more patience is to be expected and you would be best off studying the menu, in advance, and giving your order (apps, main course) to the bartender at once..(though I did it in stages, exercising a little more patience than usual).

                                      2. re: El Chevere

                                        Maybe those few glasses of wine also helped you to be less bothered by the noise level, as well?

                                        1. re: DoctorChow

                                          not sure about that but some of the eye candy roaming the place caused some eye strain.

                                2. re: El Chevere

                                  Love this place even more.....went back again tonight, Friday...started off with the chicken oysters appetizer that was out of this world....followed that up with the prawn and pork rigatoni which was exceptional.

                                  Halfway through the meal, Richard Blais came around and recognized me from last night. We are both originally from Long Island (NY) and I suggested that he come up with a Long Island pub item for his menu, such as sliced London Broil served on garlic bread and topped with melted mozzarella cheese along with a BBQ dipping sauce....next thing you know, he comes back to our table a few minutes later with his own version for us to sample at no charge. How cool is that.

                                    1. re: El Chevere

                                      That is very cool & the sandwich(?) looks fab.

                                  1. Ms. Krispy and I made a visit last night and came away pretty happy. We didn't leave shellshocked and in awe, had some hits and misses but really enjoyed it and will be going back soon. We tried to hit a couple of sections of the menu for the first time instead of trying something from each.

                                    summation - I will TRY not to repeat what has already been said. Sorry for the poor pictures, I snapped them in a hurry with no flash because those people annoy me haha.

                                    1) Noise. We ate at 7:00, while it seemed to be typically noisy we didn't find it to be ear-splitting or unsettling like many other places (Cucina Urbana comes to mind).

                                    2) Overall Menu. Rather eclectic. Most portions are on the small side, which I typically prefer actually, and most of the menu is geared towards sharing. Server explained everything at seating. We actually didn't even try any entree items. The menu has changed since the first reports and what is online. 3 pasta items, 6-10 starters, same with "salads"/small plates, 4-5 raw seafood selections, 3 toasts (bruschetta-esque), and maybe 6 entrees.

                                    3)Drinks. I don't have much new to add except the craft beer section is quite poor (4 beers, all local) and the cocktail I had was delicious.

                                    4)The service. Spot on, very attentive, friendly, and items arrived in the groupings on the menu which was nice. Items came out fast as well. If you want a long, slow-paced dinner I recommend you order in two batches.

                                    5) From the Snacks and Toasts section

                                    We started with the lamb bacon dates stuff with chevre. Tree trunk arrived with 4 of them (pictured). Chevre was completely lost in the sweet dates. Lamb bacon was crumbled atop, quite savory. Dates had a cocoa or coffee dust, I couldn't actually tell. Ms. Krispy was put off by the dusting. A miss, will not order again.

                                    Next was the carne crudo asada. Carne asada ground like raw hamburger on top of thick cut very buttery toast, topped with quail eggs (poorly taken photo attached). Delicious, nicely seasoned, well ground (no tough or chewy bits). Server said meat was lightly seared before grinding. A hit, would love to have again!

                                    6) from the small plates section the grilled artichoke salad and Pate. Artichoke salad was a small portion, nice char on the hearts (served cold) on an otherwise forgettable dish. Thinly sliced pears were perfectly ripe and played well with the others but I don't recall anything else about this dish. A miss.
                                    The pate arrived as what I normally regard as a terrine, not whipped or pureed. Expertly crafted, which an abundance of pork flavor balanced nicely with fat and pistachios. Served with the thick cut toast, pickled onions and mini cauliflower florets.

                                    IF YOU ONLY READ ONE SECTION OF THIS DIATRIBE READ THIS
                                    Someone let the molecular gastronomist in the building, because on the pate plate there were purple dots of what the menu called "violet mustard" which blew me away..all with no fanfare or buzzwords on the menu. An initial taste of floral notes gave way to an almost shocking intense sweetness of what I could only describe as Kool-Aid, Crystal light, or Jello powder-flavor. Just when it seemed to be jarring the spicy mustard flavors knocked the palate back into reality. Amazing IMO, and went well with the dish. The mustard dots didn't make the dish but were a nice reminder of what they want to bring to San Diego. The dish was a sum of its parts, well played. A hit!
                                    (Ms. Krispy couldn't get over the sweetness of the violet mustard I should note).

                                    7) Lastly, our shrimp and pork rigatoni with self-described Brooklyn Gravy & burrata came out. At seating, the server mentioned pasta portions were only 3 oz (fine with us, we shared). Pasta looked sad as a small clump in the bottom of a relatively oversized bowl. Sauce and bits of meat tossed in with burrata that seemed to be haphazardly flung in on the sides. I thought the marinara was spot-on, shrimp and pork were nothing special nor was the dish. I liked it though, Ms. Krispy did not. A push.

                                    Check arrived with a pair of macaroons...a hit!

                                    I look forward to going back, will explore the raw section and entrees next. Neighbors seated next to us got the abalone and oyster dishes and both were drool-worthy. I look forward to other reviews.

                                    25 Replies
                                    1. re: MrKrispy

                                      Photos were massive, and one keeps showing up upside down. trying this again

                                      1. re: MrKrispy

                                        lamb bacon dates *i give up, it insists on flipping half my photos**

                                        1. re: MrKrispy

                                          So maybe invert your photos and then repost?

                                        2. re: MrKrispy

                                          Went for 3rd time last night....as McGrath states, place is good (some items very good), but would not say great. Still will come back though.

                                          Already, the place has turned into a typical downtown douche crowd--that did not take long. I was dining at the bar and was surprised to find as many available bar seats as I did--novelty wear off after only 10 days?... Restaurant was packed but the bar and lounge area were filled but not to capacity.

                                          At. 8 or so in stroll people with baseball caps on, fresh off the bus from Whittier or National City. Guess there is no dress code which reinforces my opinion of downtown--there is an absence of an abundance of successful professionals in the 35-50 year range that is vital in maintaining the success and longevity of serious restaurants. Sure there is an attorney population downtown that works downtown during the day, but most live elsewhere. Sure hope this place can survive but time will tell--maybe the bail bond business is good these days and King Stahlman, etc will throw around their cash and support the downtown businesses at night. San Diego is a service town period.

                                            1. re: Beach Chick

                                              seriously, it did not take long for the Searsucker crowd to discover this place--you know...the wallet chain, Ed Hardy t-shirt crowd. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume they're not on the Board of Directors at Qualcomm.

                                              1. re: El Chevere

                                                El C: IF i was to read your Yelp! review of Juniper & Ivy and look at your profile picture, I might think to myself - middle-aged Yelp! Eliter with a ball cap taking a selfie w/ a couple of wooooo girls at the gym = sorta D-ish, but that might seem kind of judgmental...I've seen plenty of the above described crowds at Cucina Urbana, PrepKitchen, Wine Steals, Mozza, Brooklyn Girl, etc., etc., etc. $5 spot says you have a pair of jeans with some kind of pocket embroidery ;)

                                                Question (for anyone): What kind of diner do you think Malarkey is/was trying to appeal to with his restaurant group vs. what kind of diner do you think Blais is trying to appeal to with J&I?

                                                1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                                  "what kind of diner do you think Blais is trying to appeal to with J&I?

                                                  Aw, but it ain't me, babe.

                                                  no, no, no it ain't me babe.

                                                  And yet…. I've booked a group of visiting business collegues into a booth this week, so I'm headed back to the Foodisco.

                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                    So, are you Sonny and Ms. Fakey = Cher?
                                                    And does little Fakey = Elijah Blue?

                                                    Just funnin with ya. :)

                                                    1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                      Ah, but the real question is will they be like Turtles and return to their shells once done...

                                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                                        John Stewart and Joni Nitchell in in my heart forever.

                                                  2. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                                    Stiff--but that Yelp pic of me you referred to was taken in the gym by 944 Magazine--it was not a selfie nor was it taken at a nice restaurant (where I always dress appropriately, i.e. no baseball cap, flip flops or wallet chain at Cowboy Star, Dobsons, J&I, etc). Others can dress as schmucks in nice places, but I don't (OK, I wear a baseball cap at Tender Greens, Wahoos and The Neighborhood).

                                                    If you look at some of my other Yelp pics in my profile you will see me at nice restaurants and nice functions in a suit or appropriate attire such as collared shirt and no baseball cap....in a downtown (SD) that caters to a service economy, rather than being an epicenter for urban professionals, it is not surprising that I notice a demonstrable difference vs. other cities I frequent on a regular basis in terms of caliber of restaurants and class of people/income levels. (Now I do appreciate your reference to this 55 year old as a middle ager rather than as an old fart).

                                                    I just hope there is enough of a crowd that will appreciate and, more importantly, can support J&I--though based on last night, I now have some doubts. There's a popular high end gym that initially targeted urban professionals but quickly came to the realization there is not enough of such a market here in downtown and they have since adjusted their marketing strategy...Ty Hauer and his restaurant/bar group know the downtown San Diego market and do very well with Bubs, Double Deuce, and Blind Burro, among others--somehow, I do not think you will find him opening anything resembling Eleven Madison Park anytime soon.

                                                    1. re: El Chevere

                                                      But as long as these type of crowds don't pick up fights or are particular loud etc (which they are normally don't do) does it at this point for the SD dining scene really matter which "type" of customer will support such restaurants as long as such restaurants in the end somehow survive. (And yes, I would also prefer customers dressed differently but prefer even more restaurants who take risk to survive

                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                        I agree with you, Honky. It seems odd to complain about clientele unless a place is overly busy.

                                                        1. re: RB Hound

                                                          Why is it odd?...I was questioning the financial resources of the crowd last night (particularly vs, the ones I noticed just a week earlier) to sustain a place such as J&I....if the majority of the wallet chain crowd last night are really MD's, business owners, business execs, bankers, attorney's, CPA's, etc (which I highly doubt) that you find in other metropolitan cities that have the means to sustain good restaurants, not just casual ones--I will be the first to admit the errors of my ways. In many other cities a place like a J&I has a vibrant and larger 30-55YO professional/accomplished crowd from which to draw upon with the financial resources to support such establishments.

                                                          1. re: El Chevere

                                                            Quite a bit of the money in SD isn't your traditional white collar type.

                                                            A lot of it come from software, biotech, etc. that do not necessarily conform to more traditional forms of outerwear or appearance.

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              I would be shocked if the people I saw yesterday, let alone significant portion, met that criteria last night and I would be shocked to learn that the average income in San Diego has suddenly surpassed other places with tech and software in places such as Silicon Valley, Orange County, NYC, SF, LA, Boston, Chicago, and elsewhere......yes, there are wealthy pockets in La Jolla, Del Mar, RSF, etc. but on average there is a noticeably smaller professional base in the downtown and surrounding areas (not including attorneys who work here during the day, with most living elsewhere and going home at night) and more of a service oriented crowd, which is the category I am willing to bet most of the crowd I saw last night fits in. Face it, downtown is a service economy.

                                                              Heck, I just spent a week in Miami which I never considered a sophisticated city, but the Brickell section (and Miami overall) is thriving with many high end restaurants and the local clientele with the means to support it (whether they earned their money here or brought it with them from abroad).

                                                              I hope I am wrong and hope J&I lasts here for many, many years. I hope the crowd fits the employment categories you outlined as well with the means to support a J&I and many more such places, but I have my doubts. Just witness the number of downtown restaurants that have closed recently(gone out of business) and/or have picked up and relocated elsewhere. Again, there is a reason why a Blind Burro will thrive in downtown and why you will not see an Eleven Madison Park. Income levels plays an integral part (and I'm not talking about retired 60-70+ year olds who are less likely to dine out as frequently as a thriving professional 35-55 year old crowd that you see in many other metropolitan cities, but not to as great an extent in downtown SD).

                                                              This is just my observation and opinion. but many people I speak with share similar sentiments (and I don't live in a bubble but do travel to many different places on a frequent basis as part of my job--tech/semiconductor--suit when calling on customers, no wallet chains or Ed Hardy/Affliction T-shirts in my casual wardrobe).

                                                        2. re: honkman

                                                          I hope they can pay and support a restaurant like a J&I...ordering 2-3 cocktails won't keep such an establishment alive and I hope I am wrong--but I have my doubts. My issue is not with a restaurant taking a risk--has more to do with the local population having the financial resources to support the establishment. In the case of J&I, it would seem they might be even more dependent upon local support, rather than being able to also tap into a convention crowd, given their location that is quite a bit removed.

                                                      2. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                                        $5 spot says your not a chick and your more Lake Murray than La Mesa proper.


                                                      3. re: El Chevere

                                                        Do people still wear Ed Hardy and wallet chains in San Diego or is that just a really dated reference? That trend is several years old now; I know SD is usually slower with trends but even that was several years ago there.

                                                          1. re: Fake Name

                                                            With Ed Hardy or the reference?
                                                            With Ed Hardy - everything
                                                            With the reference - it's dated, lazy and out of touch to current trends. Right up there with the "striped shirt army"

                                                2. Just visited recently. Nice trip, good time. Really nice space, very “cool” atmosphere. Food good but not blow you away. I felt a lot of things where a little flat, not much pop. They had meyer lemon in a lot of items but not enough to shine through. Oysters and beef heart perfect example of this, lemon dollops all over the plate but not enough to cut through all the ingredients… I think the shaved heart needs to be dressed in a lemon vin or something – similar to how George’s dresses out their beef tongue. Tasty though, so give it a try. Abalone and bone marrow, delish but short on the lemon barbasol which on the little bit I had with it made it KILLER. Little things like this here and there kept the food from being “whoa baby!”. Dessert was very, very good and I’m not much of a dessert person, chocolate yodel or something like that.

                                                  Service ok, not stellar but definitely trying to win you over. I noticed a few servers getting tripped up on the kitchen gimmicks… mistaking agar use for encapsulation, ect ect. Small gripes but you can tell they still have a little work to do in order to be sync’d with the kitchen. Overall good stuff though, I’d come back.

                                                  1. My partner and I went for dinner yesterday evening and the experience was mixed. The dining room was busy but not completely packed. The noise level is indeed very high and it seems they have done little in the way of sound dampening. It's a beautiful space, but while the noise is not deafening quiet conversation was impossible and the racket contributed to the harried feeling of the service.

                                                    Coachella dates - Enjoyed these, nice contrast between the sweetness of the dates, the bitter coffee powder, and the gaminess from the lamb bacon.

                                                    Beet and Mexican water chestnut salad - Refreshing and crisp but not a standout

                                                    Swordfish (my main) - Served with a romesco sauce, tiny purple potatoes, and roasted onions. Came out noticeably overcooked the first time, this was corrected promptly when I alerted our server.

                                                    Steak (her main) - Served with onion rings, roasted carrots, and something else I unfortunately did not note. Had a bite of the steak which was very flavorful.

                                                    Pine needle meringue - Served with citrus marshmallow sorbet and crumbles of pie crust. I don't usually focus much on dessert but this was my favorite dish of the evening. Intense citrus flavor from the sorbet, barely sweet, lightly foamed meringue and a hint of toastiness from the crust.

                                                    The service was rough around the edges. We were seated on time for our reservation and promptly offered water and drinks to begin. However, as the evening went on it became progressively harder to get our server's attention and I suspected that our table had somehow entered a bubble of invisibility. Dishes were paced well but ejected onto the table at arm's length and without comment as if the servers were actively trying to avoid any further interaction. Water wasn't offered again, nor did we have the opportunity to order another glass of wine, until I flagged the problem with the overcooked fish midway through the meal. Overall the service felt rushed and distracted-- perhaps the dining room was understaffed for the evening.

                                                    1. Positive review in the UT, but the term "coed washroom" left me confused. Is it strictly a washroom, or a bathroom? Cuz I don't look forward to returning to the 80's version of unisex bathrooms that were all the rage in big city, fancy nightclubs. Yes, I'm old.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: foodiechick

                                                        Oh god. Are they doing THAT? Like at Saltbox? No. no no no. I'm never going. I don't primp in front of strange men.

                                                        1. re: Dagney

                                                          The restroom arrangement at Stone Brewery Liberty Station is also very unusual in a discomforting way.

                                                          1. re: DoctorChow

                                                            TrueFood in Fashion Valley has a shared sink area as well. It is only uncomfortable the first time when you aren't sure if you somehow accidentally walked in the wrong bathroom.

                                                            1. re: MrKrispy

                                                              That was exactly what I thought the first time I went into the one at Stone!

                                                        2. re: foodiechick

                                                          Separate rooms (each behind a door) for toilet stalls but common sink area.

                                                          1. re: zare_k

                                                            Thank you for the clarification, that bit of info means I WILL give it a try.

                                                        3. Thanks to a visit from the inlaws, we got to celebrate my birthday (a couple of weeks early) as a night out at Juniper and Ivy, on Monday.
                                                          Though we had an early reservation, partly due to availability on Open Table and our own personal scheduling, it worked out as the din was almost unbearable by 8pm when we left. I'm not adverse to noise, but the layout really doesn't lend itself to any escape from the crowd. Therefore, conversation, for a two-top, was almost impossible by the time we left.
                                                          Almost everything was noteworthy. I didn't really find any of the dishes too small, as some others have remarked (not necessarily here) and the price-point was in line with expectations.
                                                          We started with cocktails. My wife's "Ivy" was very pretty, a little sweet, but very good. I went with the "Pena"cillin. Though the description sounded good, it was a little too much orange juice-y for a scotch based cocktail.
                                                          We selected several starters and a couple of "mains" (one entree and one pasta).
                                                          - Chicken Oysters: tasty, but basically high-end chicken nuggets
                                                          - Beef Tongue Pastrami: probably one of our favorites of the night. Beefy and melt-in-your-mouth. The Russian dressing was a little too much, but easily avoidable.
                                                          - Corvina Cioppino: nice, playful and well executed. Very tasty!
                                                          - Meatball: a meatball. Good, but I thought it was a little salty
                                                          - Rabbit Terrine: good, but nothing that blew us away. Again, well executed.
                                                          - Abolagna: Really liked this. That they took the time to mimic mortadella to the point of including pistachios was pretty standout to me. (forgot to take a picture)
                                                          We had a very nice, and well priced, Zin from Von Strasser with the end of the appetizers, leading into the entrees. I've been to this winery a few times now and was very surprised at the price point ($40, one of the cheaper bottles on the list).
                                                          Squid Ink Rigatoni: The "fishy-ness" of the pasta matched very well with the lamb ragu, but I thought this was a little too salty as well,
                                                          Swordfish: Simple, pan-fried swordfish with olives, capers and spinach. Second favorite to the beef tongue.
                                                          We talked to our server a little about our good luck with free babysitters and were rewarded with a complimentary dessert of the Pine Needle Meringue (complete with candle for my early birthday and eaten too quickly to remember the picture). Though a little daunting in appearance, the dessert was very light and refreshing! At this point, we were really stuffed, having already put half of the pasta in a to-go box. However, I had read a lot of positive reviews about the Yodel and, since my wife is a chocolate freak, we added on an extra dessert. This held up to what I read in others opinions and, even though a little excessive, we made it through.
                                                          Our bill came with little sugar cookies for a finale.
                                                          I found the service very good at the start, but waned as the dining room filled and filled. The pacing was a little brisk, but we ordered in "waves" to take control and had no complaints from our server. I'd definitely go back, but would take advantage of the the small outside patio to avoid the noise and action inside.

                                                          1. My wife and I have been twice. The first time was a few weeks after opening. We had a reservation but were seated in the bar instead of the dining room. I really had problems with that. It looked like the floor just doesn't have 2-tops. We were neglected by the server as it got busier and other guests started hovering around the bar tables as it got busier. The food was inconsistent with some really low lows (oysters and pearls, chicken oysters), extremely high highs (coconut panna cotta and jasmine rice sorbet), and very weird weirds (octopus and pork belly terrine, ricotta and blackened grapes toast).

                                                            The second visit was like being in a different restaurant. We requested the chef's counter in front of Chef Blais. The difference in service from sitting in the bar was like night and day. I guess it's hard to be ignored when you're basically sitting at the pass. Chef Blais was extremely friendly and we enjoyed a brief chat with him. A true professional who really seems to be enjoying his time in our city.

                                                            Our menu selections were much better the second visit. The carne asada crudo and the squid ink rigatoni were delicious. We got the off-menu In & Haute burger, which was a huge mess in a good way, but nothing like a Double-Double. The kitchen gifted us an order of chicken oysters, and for the second time in two visits, we were really disappointed in them. Mealy, soggy breading and not served piping hot as you'd want from a deep fried bite.

                                                            I left with a much more favorable impression compared to the first visit. Huge step in the right direction. We'll definitely be back when they start doing the 4x4 tasting menu.

                                                            1. DH and I went last week, and had a very enjoyable dinner. We did snacks/raw/small plates:

                                                              Meatball -- tasty
                                                              Shishito peppers -- good, but the dressing didn't add a lot
                                                              Salmon crudo with kimchi -- would not give it points for looks, but was really good.
                                                              Chicken liver toast -- Berries and small greens gave this a good balance
                                                              Shaved asparagus salad -- OK, seemed very "raw".
                                                              Carlsbed mussels -- the best mussels I have had in a long time. Really nicely done.
                                                              Abalone mortadella -- not sure I could really pick out the abalone, but I liked it.
                                                              Carne crudo asada toast -- really good, nice plating with the eggs.
                                                              For dessert we had the Yodel. It was the only dish I would consider a disappointment. And (surprisingly) the only dish I thought was heavy on the salt... It seems that often the small plate experience is a salt heavy experience... to me, all the savory plates were seasoned just right.

                                                              The service was good, the pacing of the plates was about right, there were never more than two things on the table at a time, and they changed our plates out as they got messy. The noise level was OK... it was loud enough to drown out landing planes, but you could still hear each other talk.

                                                              Nice wine list, with lots of interesting wines, and many available by the glass... the glass price was 1/4 the bottle price, which seems fair.

                                                              We will go back....

                                                              1. Tried it yesterday for the first time and it is really a nice addition to SD - creative, well executed dishes who use some interesting flavor combination. Good cocktail list, nice service (but it is necessary to order in several rounds to have relaxed dinner). We didn't think it was really loud but what you would expect from a trendy place. Will definitelybe on our regular rotation and we will also try to set up some tasting menus in the future - Now we need a few more placed like this, Georges, Cafe Chloe and Blue Ribbon and SD starts to become a real food city