May 13, 2014
Australian chef Shaun Hergatt opened Juni last August. We had enjoyed his cuisine four years ago at SHO Shaun Hergatt, his opulent restaurant near Wall Street, which earned two Michelin stars. But it was a difficult location and SHO closed after a few years. Linda and I went to Juni the evening of March 6, 2014.
We ordered a glass of Billecourt-Salmon Reserve Brut Champagne for Linda and a glass of 2009 Gramona “Gran Cuvee” Cava for me. The amuse-gueules were a little celeriac purée cylinder, goat cheese on a beet gel shard and a potato faux truffle.
The menu offers a choice of à la carte, four courses, six courses or a ten-course Chef’s Tasting Menu. The menu is organized into five sections, each with three choices: cold appetizers, hot appetizers, fish, meat and desserts. The descriptions are brief and somewhat cryptic. We chose the six-course dinner; we could each select any six dishes as long as we started with an appetizer and ended with a dessert.
The décor and ambience are pleasant and low key, not opulent. In the first photo you can see the serving table in the middle of the first dining room. Behind it is Juni‘s entrance from the lobby of the Chandler Hotel on 31st Street.
Linda’s cold appetizer was
hibiscus – hudson valley foie gras – ginger spice bread
The small torchon of foie gras was creamy and luscious, topped with petals and leaves. The elegant plating included hibiscus coulis in the foreground in the shape of a squid. The brioche is in the background in a little pan.
We both had
trumpet royale – chicken skin – mustard greens
There were actually more grilled slices of hen of the woods, or maitake, mushrooms in this dish than of the king oyster mushrooms in the course title. The crisp chicken skin added crunch. The maitake sauce in the middle had a bit too much vinegar in it, but the mushrooms were flavorful and did not need it.
Linda went on to
truffle – feather ridge farm egg – olive oil rocks
The lightly-poached egg rested on a very good truffle purée. The white “rocks” in the photo are made from dehydrated olives. The chips added crunch to a very nice combination.
anson mills heirloom polenta – tongue – pine nuts
Chopped veal tongue was under the layer of very creamy white polenta. There was a crispy disk on top of it, which may have been the pine nuts. I do not know what the “snow” over everything was. Anyway, the tongue was quite good and enhanced by the garnishes.
Linda’s fish was
roe – atlantic salmon – lemon yogurt cotta – spicy crunch
The salmon rectangle at the right of the photo had the consistency and good taste of a smooth salmon tartare. Salmon roe was sprinkled in little piles in several places on the plate, including on the undefined spicy crunch. The lemon yogurt cotta did not add, for Linda, anything to the dish.
My fish was
tapioca – black bass – iberico – tahoon cress
The piece of black bass was fresh and perfectly cooked. The stiffened slice of Iberico ham was a good match with it. Tahoon cress is a particularly spicy variety, which was a nice touch. The tapioca base turned this into a substantial dish.
The meat course for both of us was
rose petals – upstate new york squab – sunchoke – lovage
The squab breast was perfectly cooked with a crispy skin and juicy, tasty meat inside. There was also a nugget of braised leg meat. The garnishes included apple, squash, sunchokes and rose petals which were a nice flavor offset as well as being pretty. They were in the right proportion to the pigeon.
Linda’s dessert was
pomegranate – black walnut – molasses – yogurt
Linda’s first-ever pomegranate dessert was a great success, with neither the pomegranate, nor the molasses at right, nor the sorbet too sweet. An excellent finish.
We had a good time. The service was very good, although the pace was somewhat slow. The tables are well spaced and the noise level low.
The cuisine sometimes seemed like a promising work in progress more than a finished product, which is surprising since the chef was recently running a two-Michelin-star restaurant. Some combinations were more successful than others and some garnishes were out of proportion to their main ingredients. Anyway, Juni has only been open for seven months and we plan to return to follow its progress.
(A three-course menu is offered at lunch.)
To see our 2010 meal at SHO Shaun Hergett click here.