Every New Years Eve my husband and I hire a sitter for the kids. We get all fancy (or as fancy as two tired parents can get), and go out for a celebratory dinner. This year we picked Juniper and Ivy in San Diego, CA, to celebrate meeting each other 13 years ago on NYE.
We’ve been wanting to check it out for the past three years, so this was the perfect opportunity.
Besides the fact that I’ve had a handful of people tell us that we have to try Juniper and Ivy, the husband and I like to binge on Food Network
every once in awhile all the time, so it’s extra fun to visit real life restaurants helmed by TV personalities.
Richard Blais, Top Chef winner, and a regular judge on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, has ties with Juniper and Ivy, and another favorite restaurant of ours: The Crack Shack (post coming real soon, because it’s finger-lickin’ amazing). We kept our eyes peeled for Blais during our dinner, but alas, never saw him. He was probably off doing cool New Years Eve stuff.
Setting the Scene
The ambiance at Juniper and Ivy was perfect for New Years Eve. The energy was vibrant, and even though the whole place seemed like it should be loud or busy inside, we never had to raise our voices to hear each other. We also weren’t rushed, and had ample time to sit and enjoy our meal together.
I’m also certain we had the best table in the house. It was just off the bar, and it table overlooked the whole restaurant.
I love the open concept of having the kitchen right there—not only did it give us something to always talk about, but you know a restaurant takes pride in their work when you can peer in whenever you want.
All Good Things at Juniper and Ivy
Anyway, the food! It. Was. GOOD. In case you weren’t aware, fancy schmancy places typically ditch their regular menu and create a pre-fixed menu on special nights. There’s usually either three our four courses, and you can pick from three to four items for each course. It’s actually pretty fun, and if you’re horrible at narrowing down your options from a big menu, this solves that problem.
Juniper and Ivy took it to another level, because they also offered a special wine pairing with each course. I almost chocked on my water when I saw the price for the addition ($40 more), because I’m the person who tries to make any meal as cheap as it can be, but since my husband and I won’t celebrate together next year, we decided to go for it.
Get in Our Bellies
I love places that give you little “snacks” before your meal. Sure, we’re technically paying for it, but I like to pretend it’s free.
The “deviled egg” was a meringue base, giving an airy, and slight crunch and texture that the egg yolk mousse needed. Mustard-seeds were carefully placed on top, and then there was a hint of truffle throughout the whole bite.
The minute I saw the menu I knew exactly what I was picking for the first course: oysters. I’ll never turn down a chance to eat oysters.
These came to our table smoking from the dry ice, and had champagne jello-o on top. They were good, but I wanted at least three more. It was like a little oyster tease.
Kenny picked lamb tartar for his first course, which was more filling than mine, plus it had that modern-American flair Juniper and Ivy is known for.
I just about died and went to wine heaven with the wine pairing from the first round. The 2015 Trimbach Gewurztraminer was my favorite out of the four we tried; it was unbelievably smooth, and if I had the option I would’ve ordered at least one more glass of it.
I ordered tagliatelle for the second course. I can’t turn down a fantastic pasta, especially since it had chanterelles mushrooms in it. My husband picked the pork belly.
They were both awesome. I love sharing with him, because then we always get to try something new . His was so flavorful and mine was perfectly filling.
When it came time to pick the entree, I went for a classic filet that was so tender I cut it with a fork. I love a good piece of steak.
Kenny picked the duck “pastrami,” which was excellent. He gave me a few bites, and it packed a punch with the tangy mustard and parsnip sauerkraut.
Time for Dessert!
Despite getting full, we stepped up to the final challenge, and were ready for dessert. We picked our favorites—a caramel apple yodel for me, and chocolate cake for him.
The yodel was more than just dessert; it was an experience and I should’ve recorded it. Hot apple cider is drizzled over the yodel, and inside, as it melted, was a surprise filled with cake, apple pudding, matcha, and more caramel deliciousness.
It was seriously an explosion of sweet flavors. So sweet and so good that I had to stop myself—my sweet tooth lost that round (but I washed that whole thing down with the glass of the champagne they brought by.
Until Next Time…
Dinner was great; it was really, really great, and we’d be extremely lucky if we get to visit again before we leave San Diego.
Have you been to Juniper and Ivy or is it on your San Diego bucket list?