My friend Alyssa (who used to write for this blog!) recently came back to San Diego to visit with her husband, J, and her two adorable little ones. She made plans to go to Juniper & Ivy and invited me along! I’ve been interested in trying out Juniper & Ivy for so long and was glad to get the chance to hang out with my best good friend and to eat tasty delicious things.

Juniper & Ivy - San Diego, CA

Interior at Juniper & Ivy - San Diego, CA

Juniper and Ivy is one of chef Richard Blais’ restaurants, in case you have no idea (though I bet you do). I’ve never watched Top Chef (I know, that’s probably weird for a food blogger, but oh well) but I know there was a lot of excitement around the opening of this restaurant. The restaurant has a fun, open space and an open kitchen if you’d like to have a show with your meal. We had kiddies with us so we sat in a little corner. We got there quite early (about 5:30PM) and beat the crowds that evening. 

Oven Towels at Juniper & Ivy - San Diego, CA

Instead of fancy white napkins, you get a kitchen towel. I wanted to steal it and take it home with me. 

Menu - Juniper & Ivy - San Diego, CA

[juniper & ivy menu]

I poured over the menu trying to figure out what it was that I wanted to order. Minion had been here a few months ago and told me about a disappointing dish he tried, which was a pork chop. I scolded him and told him to not order pork chops in the future. Most restaurants can’t seem to get pork chops right!  There were no pork chops on the menu this evening. The menu changes so often though that it could be back in a completely different form in the future. But I still wouldn’t order pork chops, my friends.

Also – do you spy the dessert menu on here? I didn’t at first! 

Cheesy Puffs Amuse-bouche - Juniper & Ivy - San Diego, CA

[amuse-bouche – cheese puffs]

After we all placed our orders for foodie goodness, our waitress brought by this plate of little gougères. Gougères is just a fancy way to say “cheese puffs” if you want to be real about it. I thought these were delicious. They were light and airy and served warm. There was bits of scallion in them for a touch of onion flavor that I liked. 

Buttermilk Biscuit with Smoked Butter | Juniper & Ivy - San Diego, CA

[buttermilk biscuit with smoked butter / $5]

J and I ordered the same appetizer – the buttermilk biscuit. It comes in this adorable little cast iron pot with a good sized chunk of smoked butter with flaky sea salt. Is it weird that the flaky sea salt made me excited more than the rest of the dish? Obviously I am a salt fiend. 

This biscuit was so good! And really, normally, who wants to pay $5 for one biscuit but I’m telling you this, this sucker is worth it. The biscuit was flaky and buttery with a wonderful crunchy crust on top. The butter had maybe a hint of smoke on it, not enough for me to really notice it, but it made the whole thing creamy and a little more rich. I couldn’t even finish eating it. It’s plenty big enough to share with friends.

Oysters and Pearls | Juniper & Ivy - San Diego, CA

[chelsea gem oysters / $21]

Alyssa was quite excited to see these oysters & pearls on the menu. She first read about the oysters & pearls dish on A Life Worth Eating when he visited the French Laundry. Considering Blais has studied under Chef Thomas Keller, it’s not a huge surprise to see something similar served at Blais’ restaurant. These are Chelsea Gem Oysters with red wine mignonette and kimchi cocktail pearls. When the dish was served, there was a little smoke emanating from under the rock, giving the dish a very high visual appeal. I don’t eat raw things so I didn’t try this, but Alyssa adored this. She said she would have loved to eat twenty more of these oysters. 

Roast Duck | Juniper & Ivy - San Diego, CA

[duck breast / $28]

I kept looking at the menu over and over again and my eyes kept drifting back to one thing: the Duck Breast. When I go out to eat at new restaurants, I always want to either try a new take on a dish or to order something I don’t cook at home. Duck breast is definitely something I’ve never tried to cook at home and when it’s done right, I adore it. I’m happy to report that I absolutely adored this dish. I might have even had a religious experience eating this succulent, sweet, well balanced plate. I loved just about everything on this dish… except for those pink turnips, but I could easily ignore those. The other things you see on the plate are blood orange buerre rogue (the purplish sauce you see in the background), purple snap pea, and charred yam. Well, the menu said charred yam but I think the yam is that buttery golden spread you see in the front which is what I used to eat with my amazingly delicious duck instead of the buerre rogue sauce (which was more acidic than I would have liked it to be). The crispy duck skin took me to food nirvana and I was such a happy girl. I’d order this again in a heartbeat.

Sea Bass | Juniper & Ivy - San Diego, CA

[sea bass / $29]

Alyssa, my seafood loving friend, ordered the Sea Bass for her main entree. It was an Ensenada Sea Bass with green posole, mussels, and fava bean. Alyssa remarked that the dish was just okay and she didn’t quite see the point of the mussels being in the dish. 

Short Rib | Juniper & Ivy - San Diego, CA

[short rib / $30]

Alyssa said that J’s go to order was Short Rib and sure enough that’s what he ordered here. It has this twirl of asparagus on top with puffed farro. I’ve no idea what that green stuff is on the bottom – maybe another asparagus concoction? I forgot to ask J. As J began to eat his dish though, he noticed that a fairly good amount of the short rib was fat and gristle. He showed it to Alyssa and I who both made faces at his dish. Our waitress immediately took the dish back and a new one was brought out a few minutes later. The staff member who brought it over stayed to ensured that the meat looked good and proper this time which was a nice gesture. He wanted to ensure it was acceptable which I thought showed excellent customer service to make everything right.


The dessert menu is actually displayed on the regular menu, upside down, in the bottom right corner. Clever. 

Brown Butter Ice Cream | Juniper & Ivy - San Diego, CA

[brown butter ice cream / $11]

After some soul searching (dessert is very serious, you know), Alyssa decided to try the Brown Butter Ice Cream. The crazy description of it intrugied both of us. Popcorn mousse, torn croissant and lime curd, you say? Well, all right. 

I tried this dish and I have to say that the ice cream was delightful. It has a nice nutty flavor to it that I enjoyed. The other bits and pieces of the dish were kind of oddball to me though. The “popcorn mousse” was interesting to say the least. It did have that popcorn-corn-flavor with tiny bits of those kernels that get stuck in your teeth without the kernels. The lime curd was weird and didn’t really pair with the rest of the dish in terms of flavor. Why are there torn bits of croissant all over the place? For texture and interest, I suppose. It was a pretty little mess, though, I’ll give you that. 


Crunchy Yodel Innards | Juniper & Ivy - San Diego, CA

[yodel / $12]

As for me, I knew what I wanted for dessert before I even looked at the menu. The Yodel! I’ve read about the yodel on several reviews and couldn’t help but order it. It’s got Devil’s cake (mmm, chocolate), white chocolate, hazelnut brittle, and a hot chocolate sauce that gets poured over the top. Once the hot chocolate hits the top, the whole thing starts to melt and disintegrate, revealing the hidden gems inside. There’s so many different textures and crunchy bits to keep your interest while stuffing your face with this chocolate delight. Man, I loved this thing. I would order it every time.

Not everything was perfect here for my cohorts and I, though I pretty much loved all of my items.  I’d come back to check out a few other small bites and other tastes as long as I can always have that Yodel dessert at the end of my meal. 

Link love:
Kirbie’s visit to Juniper & Ivy last year.
In Love with San Diego visited earlier this year and made me quite aware of often the menu changes.
Another blogger at eat.drink.give.go also wrote about Juniper & Ivy.
Faye also visited last year, further making me realize how long it’s taken me to finally visit the restaurant.
And also here’s a link to Jinxi’s review on this oh-so-famous restaurant.

I actually found a bunch more links to reviews, but now I’m tired of posting them all. This is a popular place, in case you didn’t realize it.

Juniper & Ivy
2228 Kettner Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 269-9036

Juniper & Ivy on Urbanspoon

10 thoughts on “juniper & ivy

  1. Oh man that’s some beautiful food you guys ordered! Did you see Chef Blais at the restaurant that evening? My last experience here was fun. I can’t really remember the food as much b/c I’m still hugging myself from meeting the Chef 🙂 The restaurant is pricey isn’t it – any dessert over $10 seems to be a lot. I’m glad the kitchen brought out another short rib. Fat & gristle sounds terrible right about now.

    1. Um, is it bad that I didn’t bother to look? Cause I didn’t look for him. Let’s pretend he was there and hugged me, too.

      It is uber pricey here! This is not an everyday place. This is a special occasion place or a “my friend is coming to town and wants to go here” place. By the time I return I bet the duck will be long gone and I’ll cry a little on the inside.

  2. We order the biscuit (to share, because there are always so many dishes to try!) every single time we go to Juniper & Ivy. Next time, you have to order the “secret” in-n-out burger that’s off-menu, and ask for the fried animal style. But, split the burger so you have room to eat more small dishes. I am always more impressed with the small dishes rather than the entrees.

    I also always order the Yodel (once, we went in just to get the Yodel and that was it) plus a new dessert and then I am perfectly happy.

    I’m not a fan of the carne asada toast thing, even though all of SD seems to adore it. And, I also don’t watch Top Chef unless someone from SD is on it and even then I tend to get bored halfway through.

    1. I *almost* ordered the secret burger on this visit but the duck breast caught my eye so I decided to get that. I’m glad I did but the secret burger sounds crazy good, too. I’ve heard/read the small dishes are what people seem to be more interested in, which I don’t blame them since the entrees are pricey. I saw some toast thing float by to another table and longed for it, so maybe more toast things in the future!

  3. Gougeres, roh roh roh (say on an exaggerated French accent).

    Bert and I still haven’t gone here but we plan to. We saw it yesterday morning while having coffee at Bird Rock Coffee across the street.

    Loved your action shot of the yodel. All of your food pix look amazing. Magazine worthy I say.

    1. Haha! I had to look up the “real” term for them since I forgot. I just called them cheese puffs. So much for living up to my French Canadian half. Thanks for your nice comments, I appreciate it!!

  4. Yay i’m so glad you went to this place! Your pictures turned out awesome and it reminds me I must go there again. The yodel is delicious and that gif explains it pretty well haha. I don’t remember my entree there but that duck!!! I was at the Patio at Goldfinch yesterday too where you also have to pay for the bread but its these fluffy mounds of rolls in a cast iron pan with honey butter. So good. I will happily pay for bread if its fluffy and comes in a cast iron pan with lots of butter 🙂

    1. Thank you!! I’m pretty happy with the photos, too. They turned out better than I thought, thanks to natural lighting. I think that’s the first gif I ever made for this blog, too. Yay!

      I will totally pay monies for warm fluffy bread, too. YUM. Honey butter also makes everything better!

  5. I’m so glad you tried the yodel and the biscuit! Def both two of my favorites! I was reading your post and totally thinking, “omg, please tell me she got the yodel!!” and you did! lol.=)

    1. Hahah, yes! I’ve seen the yodel enough to know that I HAD to order it. It was on my “must try” list. So so worth it! 🙂

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