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Monday 13 May 2013

A Tuesday Evening Dinner at Juniper

Tuesday was the last hot day that we are likely to see for some time, so it was a beautiful evening for Rich and I to walk the 15 minutes or so to Juniper down in Cotham. I had never been to Juniper before and had heard mixed reviews, the downside of which seemed mostly related to a lessening in quality that people had experienced using Groupon or Living Social vouchers. But extremely hungry and with an open mind we arrived at Juniper a little early to be shown to a little table in the corner by the window. This pleased the blogger in me because it meant beautiful light for photos, but it was also a secluded table perfect for a romantic date type evening too. 
Juniper Restaurant Bristol

Rich chose a lovely bottle of Spanish white and we sat back to enjoy the ambience, at 7pm the restaurant was not particularly full but I was surprised by how many people started to trickle in over the next hour, for a Tuesday at least. We were sampling the seasonal five course set menu and there were a lot of tempting sounding choices for our starters Rich and I decided to go for the fillet of lemon sole with home cut chips and  pea custard and the feta and spinach filo parcels with a summer salad, followed by rump of Spring lamb with chorizo potatoes and a fricassee of Spring vegetables. Before all of that we had an amuse bouche to sample.
Juniper Restaurant Bristol
Amusing our Bouche
Our amuse bouche was duck parfait with toasted brioche and caramelised onion marmalade. Technically I would argue this was a lot larger than any amuse bouche I've ever had but it was absolutely lovely. The parfait was super smooth and matched well with the sweet brioche, the marmalade was a great accompaniment as it wasn't too acidic like a lot of onion chutneys and marmalades can be.
Juniper Restaurant Bristol
Last night's news, tomorrow's chip wrappers
Juniper Restaurant Bristol
crispy feta and spinach filo parcels
A bit over keen on the cress sprinkling besides, these were two pretty plates. The lemon sole was perfectly cooked and so light and delicate in flavour, the lemon and herb crumb did not overwhelm it. The filo parcels in my starter were so crispy and were generously filled with the feta and spinach mix. Feta can be a difficult cheese to cook with as the flavour can overwhelm some dishes, for me at least, with the crunch salad this was a lovely fresh tasting Spring dish. 

It was by this point that the restaurant started to fill up, and about 3 metres away there was a table, with a woman on it, with the loudest inside voice I have ever experienced. She wasn't shouting, her natural speaking voice just felt like she was. If I had been party to some salacious gossip from her I might not have minded as much but I got to hear her talk at her parents for the rest of the evening all about electricity bills and how good she was at her job and deserving of the pay rise she had just received. I am pretty sure the whole of the section of the restaurant we were in must have heard everything, there was only peace when she stopped to eat. Not that this was Juniper's fault, I digress away from the tasty meal we were enjoying the main course had arrived and I was ready for some lamb to distract me away from Lady Loud. 
Juniper Restaurant Bristol
rump of Spring lamb
Juniper Restaurant Bristol
up close
Rosemary and lamb belong together, they are like the Scott and Charlene of the meat and herb world. The wafts of the marriage of these two flavours greeted us happily from the plate and we got stuck in right away to this generous main. Rich's lamb was slightly pinker than mine, and I do like pink lamb, but mine still had a rosy hue throughout to satisfy. There was nothing I didn't like about this plate. The lamb was cooked extremely well and finding the nuggets of chorizo in with the potatoes was treasure indeed. By the end of this plate I was feeling really full, I wasn't sure how I was going to get through two more courses. Rich opted for the bakewell tart with vanilla ice cream and Chantilly cream whilst I went for my standard go to, crème brûlée.
Juniper Restaurant Bristol
Bakewell tart

Juniper Restaurant Bristol
Crème brûlée
The bakewell tart could have done with more jam but the pastry was light and crisp and the tart was suitably almondy in flavour to satisfy marzipan fan Rich. There was a lot of sugar on my crème brûlée that had not been caramelised which, not wanting to over sweeten the custard goodness dug out. It was a nicely made brûlée, the strawberries had that lovely summery sweetness which was glorious. I did not quite finish my dessert the portion was pretty big and I was nearing full capacity. Shortly after the cheese arrived, probably my least favourite course of the night but I did discover a gem in one of the cheeses.
Juniper Restaurant Bristol
Cheese plate
The cheese plate arrived looking like the birds eye view of a city centre monument. The cheeses were not mentioned on the menu but all but one were pretty self explanatory in identification. The biscuits were home made but too heavy for me at this stage of the meal as for the cheese the brie was brie and the blue was creamy. The cheddar was a bit dry round the edges, but there was a pepper coated cream cheese, which could have been sheep's cheese, which was rather delicious. I would argue there was no need for a cheese plate and maybe something lighter could have been supplied. However despite this Rich and I really enjoyed the food here it was one of the nicest meals we'd had out in Bristol in a while. The garnishes need to be toned down but the first three courses were particularly tasty and we would return. 

As for service, it was acceptable, fairly hands off but polite. The real thing that Juniper needs is a bit of a spruce up as it does look a little tired in places but you will get a tasty meal with very generous portions in return for your curiosity. Our meal was complimentary but did not affect what was in this review. Juniper's seasonal menu is running all this week should you feel tempted. Check out their menus on their website. Next blog posts will finally cover our visit to London and Maroush for Lebanese and Bone Daddies for ramen.

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