PrepKitchen La Jolla where fresh and local are more than buzz words

Our first encounter with Prepkitchen La Jolla was on a dark and stormy October night in 2010. It was raining so hard the tent roof over the enclosed small patio, the restaurant’s only dining area at the time, was leaking. We had to change tables to avoid the trips. The weather was so bad there was only one other diner, but the food was so good that we didn’t care.

Prepkitchen was opened in 2009 by the team that owns La Jolla’s upscale Whisknladle. They wanted to create a place where diners could enjoy well-conceived food that was both seasonal and fresh from the farm or ocean whenever possible.

The outdoor patio at Prepkitchen, photo/ courtesy Prepkitchen

The outdoor patio at Prepkitchen la Jolla on a sunny day, photo/courtesy Prepkitchen

When recently updating our original San Diego dining post from that trip I discovered that the small café had expanded. The new outdoor patio has seating for 30. Manager Lauren Koenig invited us to come by and have dinner on the house on our next San Diego adventure. We did.

It was a dark and rainy night

It was another rainy night – this time a mere drizzle — when we went back at the end of January. The original enclosed 16-seat patio where we’d dined on our first visit was dry and toasty warm thanks to heaters. The tables were filled with people who appeared to be having a good time. The food, which we loved the first visit, may have gotten even better.

 

Fresh Yellowtail Crudo at PrepKitchen La Jolla photo Billie Frank

The fresh Yellowtail Crudo was topped with tangy persimmon slices and dotted with pomegranate pips photo/Billie Frank

Fresh from the sea

We started dinner with a shared plate of the Yellowtail Crudo appetizer. The fish, according to our server, had been caught that morning. How could we resist? It was so fresh you could taste the ocean. Really fresh fish is a treat that we don’t get in our high desert home. The unexpected addition of pomegranate seeds and locally-grown persimmon gave it a tart finish. We also shared a green salad that wasn’t on the menu but graciously provided upon request.

 

Steamed mussels at PrepKitchen La Jolla photo Steve Collins

Steamed mussels topped with house-made chips, photo/Steve Collins

Steve, a seafood lover, ordered steamed mussels. The really fresh shellfish had been harvested the day before in nearby Carlsbad. They were cooked in a broth of sherry and garlic. Fermented chili paste added a hint of heat. House-made fingerling potato chips completed the dish.

Landlubber

I ordered the Pan Roasted  Pork Porterhouse, a perfectly cooked and juicy chop that was oofered plated with sweet potato gratin and black kale. As I don’t eat dairy they substituted their signature Patatas Bravas, oven-roasted fingerling potatoes that are cooked over a bed of sea salt which pulls out all the liquid. They are then flash fried in rice bran oil. These addictive spuds made my personal Potato Hall of Fame.

Pork chop at PrepKitchen La Jolla, photo Billie Frank

The perfectly cooked Pan Roasted Pork Porterhouse photo/Billie Frank

We chatted a bit with our server and Lauren, the manager on duty that evening, about Prepkitchen’s commitment to fresh and local food. Many of their vegetables are raised on Susie’s Farm, a 120-acre spread that is so far south in San Diego County you can see Mexico from their fields. But, she emphasized, it’s more than food that makes this eatery special. “I truly believe there is a passion in each and every person that works at PKLJ that cannot be found at many restaurants,: she said. “We all work by a set of core values that extend far beyond serving food.” If our experience was typical, they’re hitting that mark.

The evening with a fudge brownie topped with sea salt-caramel glaze embedded with pecans. It was a chocolate lover’s dream. We left, got into the London taxi that served as our hotel’s shuttle, and headed off into the dark, rainy night.

Author’s notes:
We were guests of PrepKitchen. Their generosity did not affect this post in any way. All opinions are our own.

Besides PrepKitchen La Jolla, Whisknladle Hospitality, the small restaurant group that owns it, has two other PK locations in Del Mar and Little Italy as well as their signature restaurant, Whisknladle. Coming soon: Catania, their “coastal Italian” spot scheduled to open on March 16th. It’s on our must-dine list for our next San Diego visit.

 

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2 Responses to “PrepKitchen La Jolla where fresh and local are more than buzz words”

  1. Linda ~ Journey Jottings
    February 23, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

    Great review (and photos) about an inspiring restaurant –
    Love it when they tell you exactly where the vegetables were grown 🙂

    • Billie Frank
      February 23, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

      I know. The from the farm trend is a great direction to be going in. The people at Whisknladle seem very committed to sustainable food.

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