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Kimpton's big renovation of Hotel La Jolla is in the midst of wrapping up. When complete, the building will house a new restaurant called Cusp Dining & Drinks. The restaurant will takeover the space previously occupied by Clay's La Jolla, a spot that had good food but struggled to bring in clientele. Its replacement is reminiscent of how Saltbox supplanted the similarly challenged Suite and Tender at Hotel Palomar when Kimpton took over the downtown property last year.

Like Saltbox, Cusp will be a spot geared toward communal dining, offering a collection of small and large plates ranging from $6 to $30 that are suitable for sharing. Another shared feature that's widespread enough these days not to be labeled as strictly "Salty": craft cocktails. Cusp's program will focus on French and Italian classics, including the Negroni and French 75.


The cuisine is described as coastal Mediterranean and will be seasonally driven. Sample dishes from Cusp's opening menu include whole grilled striped bass, fried honey-and-sriracha pork belly, charred octopus panzanella with cara cara orange and cilantro mojo (pictured) and...pepperoni rolls. Alert Totino's: a dish that actually earns the "whimsical" adjective so freely tossed around in relation to cuisinal style these days has finally arrived. These pizza rolls will be served with a spicy house-made marinara sauce.


Many other items will be produced in-house, from cheeses to pasta, pizza dough and condiments. That kitchen craftsmanship will be overseen by executive chef Donald Lockhart, who comes to San Diego from Hollywood's Delphine restaurant. He's also worked with Julia Child and the Robert Mondavi winery, cooked at the James Beard House, worked as an executive sous chef in Egypt, and competed in the IKA/World Culinary Olympics in Germany.

Cusp is set to debut in July on the 11th floor of the Hotel La Jolla, 7955 La Jolla Shores Drive.

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