Whisknladle | Seasonally Inspired Casual Elegance

June 1, 2012

Behold Whisknladle, one of La Jolla’s many restaurant gems, where, in tune with their successful theme, good food, good wine, and great people come together. Whisknladle prides itself on working with farm-to-table products, making most of their food from scratch, and serving quality-driven, seasonally inspired food. After my very pleasing experience dining at Whisknladle’s sister restaurant, PrepKitchen, I had to give big brother a try.    

Enter the hybrid indoor/outdoor patio which serves as the main dining room, and you will be enchanted by the simple elegance: single light bulbs dangle above each table from the dark wood rafters; candlelit partitions expand to the rear library-esque walls, where below the bookshelves, you are invited to peer through the large windows to Whisknlade’s bustling and immaculate kitchen. Sit back and sink into the rich leather cushiony bench seats and let the good vibes roll.

Famous for their hand-crafted cocktails, Whisknladle’s 100 Block did not disappoint. Made with rye, bitters, and vanilla, and dressed with orange zest, this simply delicious whiskey cocktail with subtle vanilla overtones to cut its stiff-ness made for a perfect aperitif. The Stained Glass, a light and refreshing compilation of tequila, pureed beets, and citrus with a fresh tarragon garnish, was not only pleasing to the eye and palate, but actually made me feel as though I chose a healthy cocktail!

Whisknladle attempts to distinguish itself from others and its own offspring Prepkitchen by invoking French influences to raise its food a notch above, and it successfully did so with its salad offerings.

The grilled octopus salad ($13.50) with flavorful romesco spread, purple potato rounds, and house cured chorizo, highlighted the octopus which was braised, then quickly sautéed with ginger, onion, and garlic, and deglazed with honey and red wine, making for extremely tender bites.  
A new comer to the menu, the goat cheese terrine ($11.50), was a definite favorite: beets roasted with pepper, salt, thyme, sherry vinegar, and lemon, atop a bed of frisée with crunchy, candied pistachios, and accentuated by a flavorful beet gastrique - all buttressing the star of the dish - a creamy and pungent layer of warm goat cheese with a crisp outer shell. The al dente red and golden beets, coupled with the light crunch of frisée, were elevated by super-thin, crunchy strips of dehydrated Meyer lemon zest – an innovation I had yet to experience! I cannot emphasize enough my adoration of beets paired with goat cheese. Each salad was so totally different from the other, one savory and the other refreshing, but each exceptional and delicious in its own rite.

The baked radiatori ($16.75), Whisknladle’s play on mac and cheese, with lamb, Swiss chard, and salsa verde comes piled high in a huge cast iron skillet, and swimming in a pool of buttery cream sauce. The milk-braised lamb is insanely tender and the hints of mint and basil in the salsa verde nicely contrasts the bitter chard, making for a comforting, albeit rich, dish.
The spaghetti with local snapper ($14.25), tomatoes, garlic, Meyer lemon and chili flakes left me wanting. The thick, house-made pasta was beyond al dente and the snapper difficult to find. The dish was topped with dehydrated and crumbled black olive powder that clumped together, making for insanely salty, inconsistent bites. Thankfully, Whisknladle’s frequent menu changes means that new and improved options will be awaiting my next venture!
Whisknladle’s seared Maine scallops ($28.75) are all the rave of La Jolla. While I’ve never been a huge fan of the delicate, sweet shellfish, these scallops were cooked perfectly, and served in a seaweed and butter jus with fresh and firm fava beans, tender pork belly, and my favorite part of the dish, grilled Chino Farms treviso (radicchio), making for a unique and interesting flavor combination.
Neither my companion nor I had ever tasted sweetbreads, so imagine my uneasy excitement over the braised and glazed veal breast served with potato puree, finger carrots, and the infamous sweetbreads ($25.50). The veal, marinated in apple cider, white wine, garlic, and a smattering of spices (clove? All spice?) made for a barbecue-esque veal cut (the glaze was almost too thick), which I smothered in the smooth and creamy potato puree for some good comfort foodie goodness. While the crisp exterior of the sweetbreads was appetizing, the mushy interior texture did not instantly make me a believer, but I’m definitely down to give them another shot – to new horizons!

The local rock cod stole the show. A huge filet of cod – crispy on the outside, and buttery and flaky on the inside - was served atop crisp greens, charred asparagus, potatoes, spinach and radish with pistachio salsa – an under-layer packed full of flavor which heightened the delicate flavors of the protein ($26.25). We quickly recommended the dish to neighboring patrons, who all jumped on the cod bandwagon.

As though my stomach was a bottomless pit, we then sampled the mocha beignets ($9.00): warm Gianduia (a sweet chocolate containing about 30% hazelnut paste – think Nutella) ganache, topped with a dollop of house made hazelnut ice cream. Maybe the wait staff oversold the dessert, or I was too full, or maybe the quick jump from savory to sweet was too much for my palette, or maybe I expected more of a doughnut, but the beignets weren’t quite doughy or sweet enough, and the hazelnut ice cream was just a miss – and I LOVE hazelnuts! Smothering everything in the ganache helped the beignets, but, as you probably know by now, my lacking sweet tooth makes me a tough sell on desserts. Everyone else seems to adore this dessert, so do give it a whirl – everyone can’t be wrong!

Whether you have guests in town, are on a stroll in downtown La Jolla, or simply want a laid back yet romantic date night, go to Whisknladle for farm to table French with subtle English, Spanish and Italian. Bon appétit!

1044 Wall St., La Jolla
(858) 551-7575

Mon-Thu 11:30 am - 9 pm
Fri 11:30 am - 10 pm
Sat 10 am - 10 pm
Sun 10 am - 9 pm

Happy Hour:
5 pm – Close daily feast on an assortment of Mediterranean tapas for $3.75 each!
5 pm – 7 pm daily enjoy $20 pitchers of Sangria and 25% off all bottles of wine!

Also! Consider reserving Whisknladle’s private dining room for your next intimate event! Seats up to 14 people!

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