It’s Restaurant Week here in San Diego, which means getting to eat 3-course meals at places for the price of an entree! Even though it’s been raining buckets and gusting wind (so much that they issued tornado warnings for LA, Orange, and San Diego counties), my friend and I braved the elements in the name of trying a new restaurant.
We went to Whisknladle in La Jolla. Being type-a(ish) attorneys, our plan for success was to leave work promptly at 5:00, park at the bar, and have a drink or two before our reservation time. However, by the time we both finally navigated the rainy roads and arrived inside, our table was ready anyway, so we didn’t get the chance to try out their happy hour.
Usually for Restaurant Week, local restaurants offer a prix fixe menu with 2 or 3 choices for each course, but Whisknladle had their entire menu up for grabs. Well, almost their entire menu. Noticeably missing from the dessert choices were the sweet potato donuts, which made me ridiculously sad. A glass of Malbec cured that, though. So what did we have? (Full disclosure: no pictures-I’m still working on remembering to put my camera in my purse when I go out.)
Before I start, the first thing we noticed was that the water had…a flavor? After some guessing (and a lengthy discourse about the glory that was Bath & Body Works’ Cucumber Melon lotion) the server told us it was cucumber and lemon. Interesting. Not my favorite part of the meal, but a nice thought.
Crispy Sweetbreads with maple glaze, lentils, brussels sprouts, and house smoked bacon – I’ve never tried sweetbreads (warning: not for the faint of heart) but after hearing rave reviews about them for the past 6 seasons of Top Chef, I figured I should give them a try, especially since there were two more courses to come. They were really good! I wasn’t expecting them to be encased in as much batter as they were, but it wasn’t overwhelming. If I had to choose a negative, it would be that the bacon was kind of superfluous (sacrilege, I know) in the context of the dish, and the portion was a little too big for a first course.
I had a bite of my friend’s Butternut Squash Ravioli with brown butter, sage, and parmigano reggiano. It was good–not too heavy on the brown butter, and there was a good ratio of filling to pasta, which places usually mess up, so that was refreshing.
Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank with swiss chard and the largest brick of au gratin potatoes I have ever seen. The waiter brought a knife, but the lamb literally fell off the bone. The chard and the potatoes were serviceable, but nothing life-changing. The portion again was huge, so I took some home for the next day’s lunch.
I ordered the Asian Pear and Huckleberry Crisp with kumquat ice cream (which is actually not listed on their website.) I love Asian pears, and was hoping for a dessert that wasn’t sickeningly sweet, and this certainly delivered. The oatmeal topping was nice and crispy, and the kumquat ice cream was a little cold, a little sweet, and slightly tart, which balanced the sugars in the topping nicely. The one miss with this dessert was that they left the pears still crunchy, whereas I prefer the insides of my crisps to be really soft. The huckleberries and pears were a nice combination though.
My friend ordered the Butterscotch Budino (pudding) with fleur de sel carmel, creme fraiche, and pine nut cornmeal cookies. The budino was incredibly sweet and with the creme fraiche and salted caramel, it made for an incredibly rich dessert. The cookies evened things out. They had a nice texture – I’ve never had cornmeal in cookies before, but I’m definitely going to check out some recipes for the future!
Overall, the place gets a B+. Points off for the unimaginative entrees (although that might have been due to my ordering), the bait-and-switch re: sweet potato donuts, and too-big portions. Extra credit for it actually being warm inside, the herb butter that came out with the bread, and the attentive waitstaff. No joke, our candle went out partway during the night, and someone swooped in and replaced it–yessss.
With the La Jolla location and the new American bistro-y feel, I fear there’s a potential for this place to deteriorate into Douche-ville, but hopefully you prove me wrong, Whisknladle!
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