I've ordered the spicy ahi with piquillo aioli and the salmon tartare from the $2 tapas happy hour menu at Whisknladle in La Jolla. And as quickly as they've arrived, I've already taken bites of both before I remember to shoot them. Then Lucien tell me the tapas change weekly at the Whisknladle bar. Mixed thoughts occur: I cringe, then get excited. An entirely new menu next week! However, I have no pictures of what I just bit into (because no one thinks a photo of anything with a bite out of it is appetizing). But I will have an entirely new selection to choose from next week. Which means I can't simply come back and order more of the same to take shots of. So, I give you my humble offerings of what is left of my scrumptious tapas and $8 tab.
Chorizo & Caramelized Onion Torto
When I was caught licking the piquillo aioli off the toothpicks left from my ahi, the manager offered me bread to sop it up with. What she actually brought me was bread, and butter that is mixed with algae instead of salt. Riiiiiight. What? Again, my knife went straight into the butter, even before I had broken a nugget of hot creamy bread to slather it on, that was supposed to sop up the pepper sauce! Ah, so much good food.
The salmon was diced and mixed with capers, onions and fresh herbs. Three grilled toast slices were tilted playfully on the side the bowl as if to say, “Go ahead, pile the salmon on me and take a gander.” And gander I did ... into lovely fish with bright flavors and a crispity, crunchity toast fork. I ran out of my so-called forks, but luckily I had a slice of the fore-mentioned bread left for the last few bites of tartare.
The chorizo and caramelized onion torto was not necessarily as described on the menu. Basically, the chorizo was served with eggs on a puffy corn tortilla, not a bun, as one might think. The slice of manchego on top added just the right hint of tang. It was curiously fun and I hope they include them on the menu from time to time.
To describe the marinated beets, let me first begin with this: I was raised on canned vegetables. Therefor, as a child I thought beets tasted like dark red dirt. I now know, for absolute certainty, this was a lie. Beets do not have to taste like dirt. They can be sweet, luscious and tender. The ones served at Whisknladle had just the right amount of Earthiness to remind me they were really beets.
I remembered the ingredients from the specialty cocktail menu for one drink in particular. As I watched Lucien the bartender combine Herradura, black pepper and blood orange juice, I inquired. Is that a Hibiscus Margarita? Yes. And he dribbled the remaining 1/4 of an ounce into a sexy little shot glass so I could have a taste. Brilliant, with all the flavors I just described. Who thinks of this stuff?
I'm going back for more. I will have a little self-control next time, so that I may share visions of these lovely delights with you.
Whisknladle is located at 1044 Wall Street in the heart of the village of La Jolla. $2 tapas are served daily from 5-7 pm in the bar area.