By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor
If you are looking for a chic and sophisticated San Diego dining spot with an ocean view to die for, then check out Cusp Dining and Drinks. Perched high on the 11th floor of the Kimpton Hotel La Jolla, this eatery is where you come to slow down, linger over drinks and delectables, savor the scenery and revel in a worthy Southern California dining experience.
The décor at Cusp is perfectly suited for a Pacific Ocean overlook. The restaurant is awash in an organic color palette of brown, beige, and white along with a bright and airy dining room balanced with stunning petrified wood and carved walnut screens. In the evening, the room turns moody, lit primarily with natural candle light that adds to the restaurant’s sophisticated and romantic ambiance.
Upon arrival, have the restaurant’s mixologist whip you up a unique craft cocktail, optimally timed to savor with a sunset. Besides classic cocktails, the contemporary drink selection also includes many aromatic spirits, fresh juices, locally procured produce and fruit purees. If cocktails are not your beverage of choice, the restaurant also has 60 wines by the bottle, many glass selections, and a range of bottled and draught craft beers.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with weekend brunch and daily happy hours, the restaurant operates under the culinary direction of Executive Chef Donald Lockhartwho has designed a menu around coastal Mediterranean-inspired fare as well as seasonally-driven, contemporary dishes. In line with emerging industry standards, Chef Lockhart’s focus is on fresh cuisine, including grilled fish and locally sourced meats. Many items are also made in-house, including the pasta, soft cheeses, cured fish and oven-baked flatbreads.
The menu at Cusp features a range of options so that you can sip and nibble from small and large sharable plates, or you can enjoy a full entrée. Be sure to check out the restaurant’s daily specials, including “Family Meal Sundays” and “Date Night Tuesday.” The restaurant also regularly features seasonal prix fixe menus that offer additional ways to sample a cross section of the restaurant’s cuisine at a special price.
Speaking of family meals, I recently visited Cusp with my brood to see what all of the buzz was about. While there were just a few misses (slight grit in the mussels ($12) prepared with chorizo, roasted garlic, and white wine and a sold out “86” on the Duck Confit ($26) with grilled Tuscan kale, fennel, black garlic peppercorn dressing, and grana padano that had caught our eye), the experience overall proffered a mélange of inspired Mediterranean fare that aptly delivered on our high expectations.
For starters, we savored the Crispy Pork Belly ($9) with a honey sriracha glaze that delivered the perfect balance of sweetness, spice, and texture. We also opted for appetizer salads: the Candy Cane Beet and Pear ($12), another perfect blend of savory and sweet served with crispy goat cheese, sherry and preserved orange vinaigrette, as well as the Little Gem Caesar ($9) with creamy garlic dressing, grana padano, and croutons.
Entrée selections included the San Sebastian Flatbread ($14) with garlic roasted shrimp, Spanish chorizo, and Manchego cilantro and Piquillo pepper sauce; House-made Casarecce Pasta ($18) with roasted lamb meatballs and roasted tomato in a velvety curry cream sauce; and Pan Seared Corvina Sea Bass ($29) served with saffron risotto, shrimp, mussels, Spanish chorizo and Piquillo peppers. On the side, I opted for the Oven Roasted Pancetta Brussels Sprouts ($7).
To end the endearing epicurean experience, we delighted in the decadent Caramel Panna Cotta ($7) served with chocolate cookie crumbles as well as the Crispy Apple Fritter ($7) with house-made granola, caramel sauce, and vanilla gelato.
With such a stunning setting and appealing menu offerings, Cusp is a great locale for a date, girls’ night out, business dinner or special event. In fact, the restaurant has a team at-the-ready to help you plan a group visit, whether in a separate event room or if you prefer to commandeer the entire restaurant. The location is also set up with audio and visual capabilities.Cusp Dining & Drinks can accommodate cocktail receptions for up to 350 guests and dinner for up to 200.
For those of you always thinking about the environment, the Cusp culinary team is committed to green and sustainable practices. Efforts include supporting farms, fisheries, wineries, and ranches guided by sustainable practices; adhering to the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program standards for seafood selection; using recyclable takeout containers; recycling all glass, cardboard, paper and plastic; using bio-degradable, eco-friendly cleaning supplies; and focusing on energy and water efficiency systems and processes.
Whether you are seeking to dine out for business or pleasure, Cusp is an innovative and inviting eatery that is making its mark among locavores in La Jolla and beyond.
“The Luxe List” Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at www.LuxeListReviews.com. Follow her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.
***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***