An elegant expanse of warm wood, leather seating and brass fixtures welcomes guests to Lionfish—the largest of six new dining and entertainment venues at San Diego’s poshest new hotel, Pendry. Chef JoJo Ruiz (formerly with Ironside Fish & Oyster) is sharing his take on refined coastal cuisine using seasonal, local and responsibly sourced ingredients in everything from his small plates to his entrees and craft cocktails.
Innovated by Andy Masi of Clique Hospitality, the experience at Lionfish is elevated but approachable. The dining space is threaded with varying neutral textures, incorporating handpainted tiles, herringbone banquettes and washed brick walls. The vintage chandeliers and pendants throughout the eatery are custom made using repurposed warehouse lights. Windows lining the back wall provide a glimpse of Chef JoJo’s well-oiled kitchen.
Shared plates are celebrated at Lionfish, so it’s recommended that you start with a selection of vegetables and appetizers. The grilled chicories and sunchokes make a beautiful dish in shades of green and purple: Bitter endive, frisee and radicchio are drizzled with a housemade Italian dressing, then perched upon wedges of the smoky sunchokes. The exterior of the grilled tubers has a pleasant snap, while the insides are luscious and silky. A slick of broccoli-top pesto on the side provides a moment of green richness followed by the tingle of garlicky heat. Lamb tartare topped with sweet golden beets, fennel and arugula is a unique version of a classic. The tender meat is irresistible when paired with crunchy housemade lavash and a rich yogurt sauce tinged yellow with vadouvan—a French-influenced curry blend.
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