Juniper & Ivy to make its culinary debut
Kai Oliver-Kurtin | Downtown News
The much-anticipated restaurant led by celebrity chef Richard Blais will open its doors on March 3. Juniper & Ivy will be Blais’ first west coast venture, and will highlight California ingredients on a continually evolving modern American menu.
Juniper & Ivy will have an entirely open kitchen, outdoor patio space, and an innovative beverage program. Located in a circa 1920s former roofing company warehouse, the restaurant has preserved many of the original structural components. Key modern elements such as hickory-stained tables and bar tops, gray leather booths, and a chandelier made of LED tubes were added to the space to create a juxtaposition of the old and new.
The open kitchen is designed to highlight the talent and energy of the culinary team. As Chef de Cuisine, Jon Sloan will be an integral player, serving as Blais’ right-hand man in the kitchen. Sloan has cooked in San Diego for the last six years, most recently as executive chef of Roy’s San Diego Waterfront.
“I’ve been working for a really long time and under a lot of great chefs, but this is really exciting and humbling,” Sloan said.
Blais gained fame from his participation on Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” and his subsequent win on “Top Chef All-Stars.” He’s known for his frequent use of molecular gastronomy in the kitchen.
“I’m well-versed in modern techniques, as is Richard,” Sloan said. “But we’re not trying to be a modern-focused restaurant, we’re just trying to be a good food restaurant.”
The chef duo is focused on serving fresh ingredients in an unpretentious environment and want guests to be able to try new food without breaking the bank.
Billed as offering “left coast cookery,” the restaurant’s ingredient-driven dinner menu will change daily and emphasize locally-curated products. Menu selections will be notably playful and serve as conversations starters, evolving daily with the chefs’ inspiration.
“Most menus focus on heavy starch, protein and veggies, but we don’t want to get attached to that,” Sloan said. “Someone can come in and have a few snacks or drinks, or a full meal.”
Sloan also said they won’t be doing anything standard at Juniper & Ivy. In fact, they expect to be able to have both a conversation about and story behind everything they’re doing. His hope is that guests will have a unique experience in a homey atmosphere.
Juniper & Ivy is located slightly north of the popular Little Italy dining corridor on Kettner Boulevard between Juniper and Ivy streets.
“Little Italy is a growing neighborhood and we’re excited to be a part of that community,” Sloan said. “The way our menu is constructed is different from what’s already in Little Italy.”
Also joining the culinary team is sous chefs Anthony Wells and Bradley Chance, sommelier Tami Wong, and bar manager Jen Queen, who recently received her Master Mezcalier status. Dan Pena is the general manager, and owner Mike Rosen is an investment manager based in La Jolla.
Reservations will be available soon. For more information, visit juniperandivy.com.
—Kai Oliver-Kurtin is a local freelance reporter who also works full-time doing social media marketing for the U.S. Navy. She enjoys covering events, restaurant news, culture and entertainment. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.