>> Thursday, August 16, 2012
Price: $10-17 appetizers. $18-30 entrees
Location: 1044 Wall St, La Jolla, CA 92037
The Quick Bit
+ great cocktails
+ constantly changing menu of seasonal ingredients
+ knowledgeable and friendly service
+ knowledgeable and friendly service
Δ somewhat limited appetizer selection
I last covered Chef Ryan Johnston's Whisknladle about 11 months ago for restaurant week 2011. As I had a great experience at the time, I thought it was about time for another visit - this time to hype them up for the rest of the summer.
Previously, I mentioned the great cocktails that Whisknladle served; Whisknladle used to actually be one of the Snake Oil establishments prior to that company being purchased. The drink that really put Snake Oil on the map was the London's Burning, which still remains at Whisknladle today. The other drinks have been changed, but if you are into cocktails, make sure you don't miss the London's Burning.
|London's Burning - gin, jalapeno, avocado, lime|
The London's Burning is my favorite cocktail. The jalapeno adds a nice spicy kick to the drink, but is mellowed out by the fresh taste of the avocado. The lime really adds the extra taste of freshness to round out the drink.
|envy - gin, cucumber, lime, mint|
The Envy seems to be the Whisknladle take on a mojito, and it really delivers. The drink was very refreshing and really had the correct balance of all the flavors. The most surprisingly good part of this drink was that the delicate flavor of the cucumber was not lost in the mint. I got a nice hit of cucumber with every sip of the drink.
|cutting board - fennel salami, blue cheese, soppresata, duck pate, bruschetta, olives, pickled french beans|
The cutting board (half size) was a great way to start the meal. All of the elements were house made and delicious. Visiting a year later, I feel that the level of charcuterie at Whisknladle has really risen. I really enjoyed both the soppresata and the duck pate
|flatbread - heirloom tomato puree, fontina, pickled red onion, house bacon, arugula|
The flatbread was amazingly well-prepared. The heirloom tomato was reduced down to the point where it acted as a tomato sauce but it was one of those super rich and flavorful tomato sauces. The tomato alone could have carried the dish, but it was elevated by the crispy house cured bacon and fontina cheese. While this wasn't quite a pizza, it was easily the best pizza I've had since my visit to Pizzeria Mozza.
|pan seared scallops - chino farm corn, chanterelles, sage brown butter|
Sometimes the simplest things are the best, and this was easily the best dish of the night. Just like last time, the scallops arrived and were extremely fragrant - they really made my mouth water. The corn puree and corn was of incredible chino farms quality as well. Usually the sweet on sweet of the scallop and corn would be too much, but there was a depth of sweetness to both the corn and the scallop flavors. The chanterelles grounded the dish with an earthy finish.
|roasted niman ranch lamb leg - chino cranberry beans, charred eggplant, arugula|
It's always hard to follow up a truly great dish, and the lamb had to follow the scallop in this case. While the lamb was cooked perfectly, the flavors did not really sing. However, the mint-thyme sauce was a nice surprise as it contained a strong hint of thyme in addition to the traditional mint. The real star of this dish was the charred eggplant, which managed to get infused with lamb flavor.
|white chocolate panna cotta - walnut cake, rapsberries, port gastrique panzanella|
I was somewhat afraid that the white chocolate would make the panna cotta too sweet, but the sweetness was really well managed. While I commented previously that I thought the desserts could be improved, they definitely have improved in the course of a year. The panna cotta was excellent in both texture and flavor.
One year later, Whisknladle is chugging along as strong as ever. The scallops are still my favorite dish, the cocktails are excellent, and the desserts have improved. There were some minor technical mishaps that held the food back a bit, but those mishaps only prevent the award of the gigabyte. Whisknladle easily retains the megabyte award and should be part of any visit to La Jolla.