Whisknladle Bar & Bistro began with a meeting of the minds between talented chef Ryan Johnston (twice named “Best Chef”) and young entrepreneur Arturo Kassel in 2006. They quickly discovered what was missing in the San Diego culinary world – a farm-fresh restaurant that created from-scratch meals without all the fussiness of fine dining. Their dream came to fruition in 2008, with the opening of their flagship Whisknladle Bar & Bistro restaurant. Their back-to-basics style reflects a philosophy that follows that of Julia Child where skilled preparation and fresh ingredients are what matter most. The result is gourmet comfort food that fulfills a passion for making people happy.
The restaurant has received several “Best of” accolades. It earned USA Today “10 Best” mentions for La Jolla’s Best Restaurants and San Diego Brunch, was voted Best Farm-to-Table restaurant by San Diego City Beat readers, and was named Best of the Best Casual Restaurants by San Diego Magazine. Others taking note of Whisknladle Bar & Bistro include Condé Nast, Food & Wine Magazine, Eater San Diego, San Diego Reader, Thrillist, San Diego Union Tribune, and Seasons of La Jolla.
Whisknladle is a good fit for the upscale, casual nature of La Jolla, and the restaurant is in the heart of it at 1044 Wall Street. You understand their commitment to turning fresh ingredients into good food from first glance. Painted above the restaurant entrance are the words, “You get out of the pot what you put into the pot.” The contemporary simple décor continues into the covered patio where hanging Edison light bulbs and table candles softly illuminate the dining space.
Large neutral tiles cover the floors and interior wall, chocolate leather bench seating lined with several light wood bistro tables and wrought iron weaved-back chairs provide comfortable and casual seating. Additional seating is available at the adjacent uncovered patio, in the private banquet space, and in the modern bar area. The relaxed ambiance is everything you would expect from a seaside village farm-to-table restaurant.
Whisknladle Bar & Bistro describes their style as New American farm-to-table fare with French, Spanish, and Italian influences. Fresh salads and gourmet specialty items dominate the lunch menu. Try their strawberry salad with mixed greens, sliced fennel, honey-whipped goat cheese, saba, and basil vinaigrette for something light. Other guest favorites are the Cutting Board – with charcuterie and cheeses, and the Patatas Bravas where peels and potatoes are fried separately. Guests are in love with Whisknladle’s house cheeseburger, another good choice for the hungry but less adventurous diner.
The dinner menu includes many of the same fresh dishes from the lunch menu, but expands to include additional meat, seafood, and pasta dishes. Seared Diver Scallops with homemade citrus carrot puree, English peas, sugar snaps, and beet-pickled shallots is a good choice for seafood lovers. Braised Goat Tortellini with veal consommé, morel mushrooms, black kale, fava beans, and ramps (wild leeks) gets high marks. A gourmet dessert menu with nightcap options tops off the perfect dinner.
Brunch is served on weekends and includes an eclectic assortment of breakfast and lunch items from standard choices like French toast, pancakes, and omelettes, to quail and waffles, chilaquiles, and shrimp and grits. Try the hot chicken with bacon fat biscuit, red-eye sausage, gravy, and bread and butter pickles, or the nicoise sandwich with roasted tombo, butter lettuce, red onion, farm egg, avocado, cucumbers, and castelvetrano olives. Whether you’re an adventurous or a finicky eater, your palate will rejoice eating at Whisknladle.
Daily Happy Hours feature $5 craft cocktails, Mediterranean inspired tapas, red and white wines, beers, and glasses of sangria, or $25 pitchers of sangria. Reserve private dining with your own private menu through the restaurant’s website. Valet parking is available Thursdays through Saturdays, otherwise there is street parking, which in high season can present a challenge. Whisknladle is ADA accessible, and is a great gathering place for small groups. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available.
La Jolla Village offers an array of cultural and natural experiences. Stroll along Prospect Street and Girard Avenue, perusing the many boutique shops, museums, and galleries of this upscale village. Make your way down the hill to Sunny Jim Cave, which can be accessed through Sunny Jim Store, and learn about its colorful bootleg history. Take a walk along the La Jolla Cove shoreline to The Children’s Pool and watch the seals frolic on the beach. Make your way past Scripp’s Park to the end of the walkway where a look over the railing reveals snorkelers swimming among the bright orange Garibaldi fish and kayakers lingering near the La Jolla caves. There are plenty of ways to be entertained in La Jolla; if nothing else take in the panoramic views from the cliffside village before you leave.