Garden goodness inspires Chef Knibb’s menu at Nine-Ten in La Jolla
By Will Parson
Summer is the most exciting time of year for Jason Knibb, executive chef at the Hotel Grand Colonial’s Nine-Ten Restaurant. Knibb has a distinct commitment to farm-to-table dining. So as more and more fresh, local ingredients become available, he’s able to get more playful with his menu.“Everyone gets excited, and not just me, I think in general — chefs and cooks. If you go to the farmers market you can see people’s tables really grow. … The menu gets bigger and more fun and complex I guess.”
Knibb’s Pea Tortellini & White Asparagus reflects the spring season. And the “fun and the variety” of summer, as he describes, is evident in the Chino Farms Squash & Zucchini dish that also has fresh garbanzo beans and roasted cherry tomatoes. The squash and zucchini appear with the Roasted Rabbit dish, as well.
“I think they use really great local ingredients and they are creative, and I always go ‘oh wow!’ ” said diner Susan Shmalo on a recent visit. Shmalo had the Slow Roasted California Natural Lamb Loin, while her friend tried the Northern Halibut. Shmalo also pointed out that (despite being in a nexus of tourist activity) the staff is friendly, caring and warm.
“I’ve lived in La Jolla for 10 years, off and on. I’ve always been really happy with big parties here, and little dinners,” she said. For dessert, Shmalo had the Meyer Lemon Tart — something to be very happy about, too.
Chef Knibb almost reluctantly admits that the Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly makes for a nice story, since he was born in Jamaica and the dish is certainly inspired by his heritage. “I guess (Caribbean cuisine) is something I love to eat and I try to do it if I find the right application,” he said. “I try to do a little twist on it, try to clean it up, more fun, more modern.”
What you definitely won’t see in the street food version of the jerk pork belly is the habanero gelatin, made with three types of gelatin, sliced thin and layered onto the meat. But instead of bursting, the gelatin melts onto the pork just a little bit, adding a surprisingly delightful kick to the dish for first-timers.
Those first-timers might do well to choose Nine-Ten’s “Mercy of the Chef” tasting menu. Left to the chef’s expertise, you will likely be led through a raw dish or salad, a fish, a meat, a cheese, and then a dessert. Like the current season, Knibb said the introduction is a fun one.
Address: 910 Prospect St.
The Vibe: Seasonal, Clever
Signature Dish: Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly
Open Since: 2001
Dinner: 6-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 6-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Monday
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily
Breakfast: 6:30-11 a.m. Monday-Saturday
Sunday Brunch: 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Phone: (858) 964-5400
Patio Seating: Yes
Take Out: No
Happy Hour: 3:30-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday
On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at lajollalight.com. Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.
This week: Nine-Ten’s Port Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs.
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