Cusp Dining and Drinks | Hotel La Jolla's Newest Restaurant Shines

Doesn't even do it justice!

August 29, 2012

Located atop Kimpton's newly chic'd out Hotel La Jolla, Cusp Dining & Drinks has revitalized the space previously inhabited by Clay's Restaurant, and proves to be an instant success with offerings of coastal Mediterranean-inspired fare, custom craft cocktails, and serene views of La Jolla Shores.

As you enter the newly designed space, note the casual lounge area and stone bar.  Proceed to the main dining area where you'll be awestruck by floor to ceiling windows imparting panoramic views of the Pacific.  The artistically carved wooden wall and ceiling accents add to the calming view and counter the bustle of the open kitchen, which is surrounded by a dining counter and centrally situated alongside the narrow dining room.

We were seated at one of the many romantic two-top tables that line the windows.  After perusing the list of appertifs, we decided on custom cocktails from the lengthy and entertaining list of craft drinks, which are all made using fresh and infused alcohols and juices, not that artificial junk.   I went stiff and chose the whiskey-based Ron Burgundy ($10) and was utterly delighted by the combination of Famous Grouse scotch, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, and peach and orange bitters.  I love Scotch!  My partner (and best friend) went with the aptly named Amigo Favorito ($9), a refreshing cocktail consisting of Del Maguey Mezcal, creme de framboise, fresh lime and mint.  The sun set and we were relaxed and ready to commence eating!

The menu changes with the seasons and is currently separated into sections comprised of raw bar options, sharable appetizers, salads, flatbreads, homemade pastas, entrees, and side plates.  All pastas are made in house, and the flatbread dough is made three days prior and cooked in a pizza oven.  Our amicable server made recommendations that appealed to our palates and we started with the very moderately priced toasted quinoa starter ($7).  The star of the plate was the ample portion of buttery yellow tail crudo, which was harmonized by the added texture of the crunchy toasted quinoa and the flavor combination from the cucumbers, chives and spicy serrano peppers.  Have you ever had toasted quinoa? Neither had we, and we were more than pleasantly surprised!

We next cleansed our palate with the refreshing and delightful roasted artichoke salad ($12) - a beautiful dish consisting of house roasted artichoke hearts, charred summer vegetables, spiced mixed greens, chili infused goat cheese atop an olive cream spread.  The warm artichokes lent to the creaminess of the cheese which counterbalanced the acidity of pickled onions, all finished by the pleasant spice of chili and arugala.  We both concluded that we would eat this salad every day.

For our main course, on suggestion we ordered the pappardelle pasta ($14), possibly the best dish of the evening.  Consisting of wide (WIDE!) house made fettucini topped with melt in your mouth pork ragout, a cacciatore-esque tomato sauce and baby leeks, this dish was exquisite and comes highly recommended.  Plate.  Cleaned.

Of the entrees, we chose the oven roasted striped bass ($29), and although the fish was cooked perfectly and flavors all meshed together, we felt that this dish was rather muddled and difficult to eat.  We appreciated serving the bass skin on, as it transfers the saltiness of the sea to the protein and keeps moisture and flavors in, but the combination of garbanzos, roasted piquillo peppers, celery, wild arugala, golden raisons and spicy harissa chili sauce made for a hectic dish with ingredients that failed to compliment one another or make sense as a whole.  Or stay on a fork.

For dessert, we chose the fruity and tart trifle ($7) which was recently enjoyed by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous host Robin Leech.  It was my first time having a trifle, and while I enjoyed the refreshing raspberry and sweetness of the vanilla cake, the tartness of the lemon curd was overbearing to my sour-sensitive palate.

For the price tag, you certainly get value at Cusp, all in a luxurious setting with picturesque sights.  Back when the restaurant was Clay's, we were fortunate enough to see breaching whales on the horizon during a brunch outing.  Maybe you'll be so lucky!  Now, the food is substantially better with the views remaining the same.

Hotel La Jolla, 11th Floor
7955 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla
(858) 551-3620


Breakfast 7am to 10:30am Monday-Friday
Lunch 11:30am to 2:30pm Monday-Friday
Happy Hour 4pm to 7pm Monday-Friday
Brunch 8am to 2:30pm Saturday-Sunday
Dinner Daily  starting at 5pm

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