Since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, restaurants have been pivoting to takeout-only operating models. Some have made it even more special by allowing us restaurant lovers to bring the tasting menu experience home with us. Juniper & Ivy, located in the Little Italy neighborhood of San Diego, is one of those restaurants that does it beautifully.
The overall experience is just about flawless. Juniper & Ivy has it figured out. Pickup was easy—you park outside at your designated pickup time, don’t need to call, and they bring the food out to you. Packaging was simple and clean. They even included a lovely card with printed heating instructions for all the dishes, a nice personal touch in this faceless time that can seem so impersonal and isolating. Portions were generous for the price—$25 bought me a three-course dinner and I had enough food for two meals.
Although always focused on comfort food, the menu changes every weekend, which I love. With the recent warm, sunny weather in San Diego, Juniper & Ivy designed this week’s menu to evoke that outdoor summer BBQ feeling, even as we were all staying inside.
Charred corn and potato salad with smoked shishito ranch
The menu starts with this spin on a traditional cold potato salad you’d expect to find at any summer BBQ. I’m a fan of this twist—I love a homemade ranch. There’s a hint of spice from the shishito, and a strong bite from the green onion.
I think this potato salad is actually better after sitting for a day, and closer to room temperature than straight from the fridge. The flavors are more pronounced on day two, and I could taste more of the subtleties in the ranch.
Smoked pulled pork sandwich
The pulled pork in cherry BBQ sauce is the definite highlight of the meal. Sweet, smoky, a little spicy. The pork is so tender it falls apart when you bite into it. There’s unexpected crunch from the peanuts in the cabbage slaw, giving it almost a Thai-like flavor. Bread & butter pickles and a brioche bun complete the sandwich.
On the side is some of the lightest and fluffiest cornbread I’ve ever had. It’s airy and more cake-like than crumbly in texture. The sandwich comes with a side of baked beans. I’m usually not big on baked beans alone, but dunking the cornbread in the beans is immensely satisfying.
Chocolate whoopie pie
Until today, the only whoopie pies I’ve ever had have tasted like the artificial ingredients they’re made of. This one is different. The cream filling tastes like actual pastry cream, sweet and rich, not faux Cool Whip. It’s sweet, but not too sweet to prevent me from swiping my finger across and lapping it up. It’s soft and cakey without being dense.
Juniper & Ivy At Home is a bright spot during quarantine, and I hope more restaurants continue offering menus and experiences like this one. The vibe the restaurant exudes is humble, friendly, and optimistic; even though restaurants are the last ones we expect to be optimistic during these uncertain times, they constantly step up to meet the challenge.
More Juniper and Ivy At Home
This weekend, like many restaurants, J&I is doing a Mexican-inspired Mother’s Day menu in honor of Cinco De Mayo. Check it out! As a bonus, when you order from Juniper & Ivy At Home once, you’ll receive the upcoming weekend menu via email so you don’t have to keep checking the website. Follow them on Instagram @juniperandivy for the latest news and menu updates.
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