The historic gold mining town of Julian is probably best known for its homegrown apples and award-winning pies. But located just three miles from town, there’s another jeweled-find, an incredible restaurant called Jeremy’s On the Hill.
Thirty year old Jeremy Manley, Julian’s only Cordon Bleu chef is the restaurant’s owner. Youthful and unpretentious, Jeremy tells the story of how he wandered into the family’s commercial kitchen at the age of ten and knew that cooking was what he wanted to do. He started out washing dishes and prepping food, then, moved on to meal creations. By 13 he was catering weddings and banquets for up to 250 people.
The youngest chef to ever work under renowned Chef Martin Woesle at Rancho Santa Fe’s Mille Fleur, Jeremy knew when it was time to run his own restaurant. At the incredible age of 21, he opened Jeremy’s on the Hill, Julian’s only fine dining restaurant.
Jeremy’s is true blue, not to be taken lightly, farm-to-table. Using at least five local farms and ranch’s organic proteins and produce at any given time, the chef owner who grew up in Julian only uses the area’s freshest, seasonal products to create his culinary masterpieces – and trust me, they’re masterful!
Jeremy’s sister Brigida Williams is Jeremy on the Hill’s level two sommelier and her knowledge of wines and pairing is a huge benefit to restaurant patrons. Brigida proudly explains that she uses as many local wineries and breweries as possible. I counted 13 local wineries on the wine list. She and fiancé John Rasmussen also run a nearby micro-farm and boutique apple orchard and some of their produce is used in the restaurant. And the plan is to grow even more.
Inside, the California-style bistro is elegant yet warm with wooden beamed ceilings, two fireplaces and local western artwork adorning the walls. Outdoor patio seating with overhead strung lights is also available for guests.
Food here is nothing short of delectable. We started with a Miner’s Lettuce Salad, a soon-to-be-added menu item, per Jeremy. Not being a radish person, I was somewhat skeptical of a salad made with organic radishes, pickled shallot and pineapple pico de gallo. Then I was astonished, for this garden treasure tasted incredible. Paired with Hart Winery’s citrusy Sauvignon Blanc, the savory crunch and melding of flavors were more than impressive.
Next came the famous “Jeremy’s Fantastic Brussels sprouts,” the must-do, must-have appetizer served crispy in a House Ponzu Sauce made with brown sugar, red pepper flakes and ginger root. Though Brussels sprouts are currently the rave of southern California dining, Jeremy’s are charred to perfection, while still allowing the sprouts to speak for themselves. Highly recommended, paired with Warner Spring’s Shadow Mountain floral Viognier.
Another popular item and one that takes an extremely talented chef to perfect is Jeremy’s Chicken Cordon Bleu. Stuffed with prosciutto and Jarlsburg cheese, topped with a lemon beurre blanc and ideally complemented with a delectable braised cabbage and butternut squash-kale sauté, this dish is a local favorite. One bite and I was suddenly transported back to a quaint Parisian café where I thought I’d tasted the best Cordon Bleu ever. I was wrong. Jeremy’s wins hands down. Crispy on the outside, yet melt-in-your-mouth tender on the inside is the best way to describe it. Brigida to my surprise suggested pairing it with a Costa De Oro, Santa Barbara Pinot Noir. And she was right – it was a perfect match.
One menu item recommended by a local gentleman as a must-have is Jeremy’s Star B Ranch Grass Fed Bison Meatloaf. This is not your granny’s meatloaf for sure. The entrée is served over organic potatoes with braised red cabbage, pork brisket, Manchego cheese, pork jus and that wonderful butternut-squash kale sauté. Tender and bursting with flavor, the dish was paired with not one, but two wine tastings that were both a perfect match for the dish. I loved Ramona’s Edward Vineyards Syrah for its oak and simple tannins while my partner definitely went for Volcan Mountain’s Sangiovese with its strawberry and spice on the nose, cherry and red fruit on the palate.
Jeremy’s hand crafted desserts, which we just had to pass on this time due to our full bellies, are loved by its many patrons. One visiting Julian for the day asked her server if Jeremy’s had apple pie on the menu. The server explained that they had instead an oven-warmed apple cobbler served with vanilla-bean ice cream and a house caramel brandy sauce. “I’m in complete heaven!” she exclaimed with a beaming smile after savoring every bite.
Jeremy’s is popular not only with the locals, many San Diegans and those from Riverside County also make it one of their favorite destination restaurants. After our incredible dining experience here, we can see why. It’s well worth the drive.
With blue eyes flashing, Jeremy Manley says he has the best job in the world. “I get to make great food and meet and socialize with my friends.” Then he adds, “But I bore easily so I love to experiment and make changes to the menu.” This can only bode well for Jeremy’s happy diners!