Coming from Michigan, where it seems everyone has a “cottage” or access to one, the mere mention brings to mind happy memories of time spent up north on a lake.
And depending on your socioeconomic status, the term cottage could be a seasonal one-room rustic cabin or a majestic year-round mansion. Regardless, it’s a word that resonates and makes me smile.
The original La Jolla Cottage is set in a Victorian-era bungalow. It has been a La Jolla institution since it launched in 1992 when founders Laura and John Wolfe transformed a pastry shop into the full-service restaurant that still exists today.
The long-awaited expansion came to fruition last year with the opening of The Cottage Encinitas. The new North County location is a win for Jason Peaslee, former investor and current owner of The Cottage.
Jason became a partner in the La Jolla eatery in 2005 with the Wolfe Family following a 15-year run at Piatti Ristorante & Bar, where he mastered just about every facet of the business under the tutelage of restaurateur Barbara Beltaire.
A few years later, when the Wolfe Family decided to sell The Cottage outright, Jason purchased the concept outright.
Since becoming co-proprietors of The Cottage in 2018, expanding upon the brand’s legacy has been top of mind for Jason and his business partner, Bernardo Kanarek. As a result, Encinitas emerged as the obvious market to pilot a single-unit expansion.
With its influx of celebrity chefs, luxury resorts and vacation-worthy attractions in recent years, it had a built-in audience of foodies ready to experience The Cottage without leaving the area.
“We’ve been very selective and circumspect in our growth strategy,” said Jason. “Expanding into a second location after such a storied past and solidified legacy, we wanted to find a place with the same beach town appeal and community-driven culture that’s sustained The Cottage’s success all these years, and Encinitas checks all of those boxes.”
Located within Encinitas Village, the recently renovated shopping center on El Camino Real and Encinitas Boulevard, the 3,500-square-foot restaurant neighbors Trader Joe’s and other national brands and locally-owned eateries.
The Cottage Encinitas has a coastal craftsman aesthetic that feels beachy with a touch of sophistication. I entered to find a display case filled with freshly baked goods alongside pre-packaged bundles of The Cottage’s bestselling granola and 16-ounce bags of its signature coffee blends, which are batched and processed on-site at the in-house roastery.
I can attest to the addictive nature of The Cottage’s granola as I almost polished off a whole bag in one sitting.
Rustic café-style seating fills the interior’s dining room, while locally commissioned murals adorn the walls with site-specific paintings. The Cottage’s rotating art program will see these artworks on auction in the coming months; proceeds from the sale will go to a local nonprofit benefitting early education.
Executive chef Paolo Chan, a Marine Corps veteran, joined The Cottage in 2019 with nearly a decade of culinary experience, including a stint as Sous Chef at Omni Hotel’s McCormick & Schmick and an Executive Chef position at Edgewater Grill at Seaport Village. His culinary prowess guides The Cottage’s American-SoCal cuisine at both kitchens.
At the new breakfast-to-lunch café, the menu parallels La Jolla’s, honoring all the ‘OG’ classic and cult favorites like the Stuffed French Toast, Avocado Smash and Capellini Crab Cakes, alongside a robust lineup of espresso beverages, wine, beer and low-ABV sippers.
Moreover, fresh fares like Crab and Prosciutto Benedict, Charred Octopus Salad and Leg of Lamb Sandwich will be exclusive to the Encinitas location and added plant-based offerings like Tofu “Huevos” Ranchero and Cauliflower and Lentil Curry.
Now that I’m leaning towards the healthier eating, I was immediately drawn to the Soy Chorizo Hash with black beans, potato, and queso on crispy corn tortillas with scrambled eggs. The Baja Chicken Hash also caught my eye with poached eggs, chicken sausage, cottage potatoes, peppers, corn and Hollandaise served in corn tortilla cups. I’ll be honest though and say that everything on the breakfast menu looks fantastic.
Lunch was my most recent visit, though I indulged in the Salmon Romaine Wedge. A wedge salad is a favorite, and their spin on it with grilled salmon, romaine hearts, baby tomato, avocado, cucumber, yogurt sauce and white wine vinaigrette rocked my lunchtime world. It was hearty enough to fill me up but not produce the dreaded lunchtime food coma that us working folks try to avoid.
My dining companion had the Grass Fed Burger with smoked gouda, arugula, onion, bacon, + roasted tomato jam with a zesty aioli on a brioche bun. He placed it in the upper echelon of the many burger options in Encinitas. I will return for the Milanese Chicken Sandwich with a crispy fried chicken cutlet, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, and lemon chipotle aioli on bolillo bread.
Several healthy bowls dishes and taco selections are also available. Nice to see that the Mahi-Mahi fish tacos offer the option of grilled or battered…given my preference for the battered variety.
The variety of creative coffee and beverage options make The Cottage a perfect spot to enjoy some hard kombucha, a glass of fabulous beer or wine, or a rice vodka-based cocktail that packs less punch than traditional vodka.
There is a full kid’s menu, and the dessert options look elegant and delicious with Raspberry and White Chocolate Bread Pudding, Chocolate Pot de Crème, and Lemon Cheesecake.
127 N El Camino Real Suite H | (760) 854-4212
Open Daily | 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Access more information, menus and online ordering at www.cottageencinitas.com