Award-Winning Jeune et Jolie Plays Pivotal Role In Carlsbad’s Thriving Restaurant Scene

March 15, 2022

Carlsbad Village is the heart of the city, and Jeune et Jolie has become the heart of its thriving restaurant scene.

The modern French restaurant is the city’s first Michelin Star-rated restaurant, one of four in San Diego County, and has helped make the Village a culinary destination in the region.

“We have a team of people that really care about what they’re doing, care about the guests and care about each other,” said Jeune et Jolie owner John Resnick. “I think that’s translated from the hospitality, the service, and obviously, the food and drink.”

Jeune et Jolie opened in 2018 in Carlsbad. (Courtesy of Jeune et Jolie)

The San Diego restaurateur opened Jeune et Jolie in 2018. Described as a “culinary experience celebrating the moment,” Jeune et Jolie aims to reimagine French cuisine through the vibrant lens of the Southern California landscape.

The award-winning restaurant is just down the street from its sister restaurant, Campfire, which Resnick also owns and opened in 2016. Together, the eateries have had an important role in the reimagining of State Street.

“To talk about Jeune, I think I have to talk a little bit about Campfire,” Resnick said.

Resnick was still living in Leucadia when he opened Campfire, an open-fire and contemporary American restaurant that first received Bib Gourmand status in 2019 from Michelin Guide California. The Bib Gourmand category, introduced by the Michelin Guide in 1997, highlights “hidden gems” that serve high-quality meals, which include two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less.

“I had been looking for a home for what would eventually become Campfire for quite some time,” Resnick explained. “I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. That was the space I had been looking for.”

Not long after Campfire opened, Resnick grew “fully in love” with Carlsbad. He and his wife, Sarah, sold their house in Leucadia and moved to Carlsbad, where they live with their two children, now 5 and 7.

“It’s not just Carlsbad, but this particular street that we’re on is my favorite street in the entire county,” said Resnick, who is originally from New York.

He pointed to State Street and the surrounding Village area’s community of active residents, flourishing tourist scene, walkable streets and nearby train station.

“It’s a unique place because it’s a vibrant, thriving community,” he said. “It’s just this special place that hits all the checkboxes of what you want. That’s why we decided to do something else just a few doors down.”

Modern French restaurant Jeune et Jolie is located in Carlsbad Village. (Courtesy of Jeune et Jolie)

Jeune et Jolie, which translates to “young and beautiful,” was envisioned as a place to celebrate special occasions, but also as a place to celebrate the ordinary. Like Campfire, the restaurant was designed by Bells + Whistles. Both restaurants are also now headed by executive chef Eric Bost.

“We wanted to do something that felt like it belonged here in Carlsbad but also something that was a little bit transportive,” Resnick said. “It was a little bit of a dance, I think, to do both. We didn’t want this to feel like a French bistro in Paris or in New York or anywhere else. We wanted it to feel like it was a place that was meant to be right here.”

Jeune et Jolie offers a four-course tasting menu with options for each course. Reservations are available for dining inside the restaurant or outdoors on the patio, which opened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jeune et Jolie offers a four-course tasting menu. (Credit Devin Castaneda)

With the popular spot often booked weeks in advance, the restaurant also features “Le Menu du Bar,” an à la carte offering available for walk-in guests at the bar and lounge.

The “engaging” space features the bar and open kitchen at the center of the restaurant.

“The bar and the kitchen truly are the stage of this place, so you are kind of intimately part of the show when you’re sitting in here surrounding the beating hearts of the restaurant,” Resnick said.

Jeune et Jolie has become a favorite celebratory spot for locals and tourists and earned its first Michelin star rating in the fall of 2021 for its “solid ingredients, unique combinations and beautiful presentations.”

“It was truly a dream,” Resnick said. “Especially after the year that we all had, it was just that much more rewarding.”

Jeune et Jolie features the bar and open kitchen at the center of the restaurant. (Courtesy Jeune et Jolie)

Jeune et Jolie is known for its intimate atmosphere, beautiful space and delicious food, but it’s the people that make the award-winning restaurant special, Resnick said.

“Jeune is a special place because it’s pretty, but without the people who are here, that’s all it is,” said Resnick, noting that the restaurant had to close for about six months due to the pandemic.

“I was reminded of that in the spring of 2020 when I was sitting in here by myself. There’s no magic without the people.”

Eric Bost serves as executive chef of Jeune et Jolie. (Courtesy Jeune et Jolie)

Resnick added that Jeune et Jolie’s team members are the restaurant’s “biggest fans.”

“You’ve got to be a fan of what you’re doing to want to share it with other people,” he said. “We care about it, and we believe it and really like sharing it with the people who come through our doors every night.”

Jeune et Jolie is at 2659 State St. The restaurant is open from 5-10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.