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.”

The Northern Halibut is the highlight of the season, in almond milk froth with peas, asparagus, snap peas, celery and herbs. Photos Will Parson

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.”

The Wild King Salmon features haricot vert, piquillo peppers, castelvertrano olives, shallots, grilled eggplant puree and fennel-chili lemon vinaigrette.

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

Reservations: Yes

Patio Seating: Yes

Take Out: No

Happy Hour: 3:30-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday

Slow Roasted California Natural Lamb Loin, with artichokes, fingerling potatoes, chanterelle mushrooms, pecorino and green garlic.

On The Menu Recipe

Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.

This week: Nine-Ten’s Port Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs.

Get The Recipe

Get The Recipe

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Posted by Staff on Jun 16, 2011. Filed under Food, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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