Chef Johnny Dolan wants to invite you to The Lion’s Share

Camel ribeye marinated with fermented fresno chiles, poblano aioli, queso fresco, crispy shallots, and cilantro, all wrapped up in a warm corn tortilla.

via intagram @thelionssharesd

Camel ribeye marinated with fermented fresno chiles, poblano aioli, queso fresco, crispy shallots, and cilantro, all wrapped up in a warm corn tortilla.

Pia Mayer, Staff Writer

With a name inspired by the title of an Aesop’s Fable, it is inevitable to think that San Diego’s The Lion’s Share (TLS) restaurant would be far from eccentric. The decoration adorning the walls of the intimate restaurant on Kettner Blvd is a story within itself. As you sit at the bar and sip on craft cocktail you can enjoy the exotic and taxidermy decor hanging on the black painted walls, Edison bulbs, and ornately framed paintings of classical Renaissance art painted over them with animal heads. It looks like what a hunter’s lodge would look like if it were in midtown Manhattan. The Lion’s Share serves everything from poblano-aioli infused camel tacos to antelope sliders with red onion marmalade. TLS Executive Chef, Johnny Dolan, gave The Mesa Press an exclusive view inside the restaurant and a rundown of what he does at San Diego’s only game-meat restaurant


PM: How and when did you begin working at The Lion’s Share?

JD: I am very fortunate to have stumbled upon The Lion’s Share. I knew immediately that I loved the place, from the aesthetic of it to the way I was greeted when I walked in. I had just so happened to be unhappy at the job I was at and I was looking to expand my career. That’s when I heard they were hiring a prep-cook so I got hired as a prep-cook first. I took the prep-cook position knowing I could work my way up and I did. A year into working there, I was promoted to Chef de Cuisine and three months afterward I found myself being the Executive Chef.


PM: What’s it like working at San Diego’s only game-meat restaurant?

JD: It’s incredible, being from the south, I’m from Alabama, it’s basically my style of cooking–which is very rustic. It allows me to separate my cuisine from someone else’s since I’m using exotic ingredients and cooking them in familiar ways. For example, it’s a play on southern fried chicken with macaroni and cheese and collard cheese but instead, I use quail legs rather than chicken. I get to use my southern roots and use them in exotic ways.


PM: If you had to choose, what’s your favorite item on the menu and why?

JD: That’s difficult, but I guess if I had to choose I would say the camel tacos. I just love how people are really enjoying camel and are open to trying something so exotic. There is only one other spot in San Diego that is serving camel so it’s nice to be able to serve something a bit more exclusive and exotic and serve it in a familiar street-taco form.


PM: The Lion’s Share is known for the unusual cuts of meat that are offered on the menu. What’s the most challenging meat that you’ve had to work with?

JD: I would say alligator. It’s very lean meat with no fat and it has an interesting stringy texture. You really have to manipulate it to make it enjoyable. Whether it’s buttermilk grinding and pounding or tenderizing it and cutting it into smaller pieces. It’s not really something you can just throw on the grill.


PM: What night do you think is the busiest at The Lion’s Share?

JD: These days, every night is pretty busy. It can be packed on a Monday or Tuesday but Friday and Saturday will always be our busiest nights. We’re not a big restaurant, that’s why I would recommend making a reservation if you want to grab a table on one of those days.


The Lion’s Share is open from 4 p.m. and serves late-night bites until 2 a.m. every day with happy hours from 4 to 6 p.m.