Juni, NYC 2
April 21, 2015
When Linda and I returned to Juni for dinner on March 26, 2015, we were following up on the conclusion of my blogpost from a year before:
“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.”
Last fall Juni received a Michelin star and a 27 food rating in Zagat. so we were looking forward to a good meal. We were seated in a corner of the second dining room. It eventually filled up. That is the door to the kitchen in the back.
We ordered glasses of sparkling wine for apéritif. Linda, being conventional, had a glass of Billecart-Salmon Brut ‘Reserve NV” Champagne. I was intrigued to find an offering of a glass of Caraccioli, Brut Reserve, 2007, Santa Lucia Highlands, California. It was enjoyable, like a Champagne style, but with a touch of Asti Spumante. Little baguettes and spreads were put on the table.
One spread was a saffroned purée with espellette pepper on top. I don’t remember what the green one was, but it was not as interesting.
The menu offers a choice of 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.
Then a generous procession of amuse-gueules started to arrive. Some were served directly into our fingers and so I do not have photos. Other were served on little landscapes. Here were half of them:
Her second course, and my first, was
hearts of palm – white asparagus – flavors of almond
Fresh Hawaiian hearts of palm had been shaved into ribbons. They were wrapped around white asparagus cooked to a custardy consistency. A dressing was dribbled on at the table. It was described by the server as “white balsamic with extra virgin olive oil and with a touch of lemon.” This dish was quite subtle.
My third course, and Linda’s fourth, was
pomelo – sable cod – kalamansi
The round chunks of sablefish were luscious and perfectly cooked. They would have been ruined by using more than a small amount of the strong citrus sauce. The pretty little salad on the right was very good, but I do not know what was in it beyond cucumber ribbons.
Linda’s fifth course was
rabbit and the carrot
Two rabbit “roulades” were accompanied by an airy cardoman and squash cake with carrot grated on top. Small carrots, turnips and radishes, plus curled red carrot strips and greens accompanied a sauce made of rabbit bone stock, chicken stock, cream and black pepper. A very good dish.
The rectangle of pressed lamb was good, but seemed a bit meager for a meat course. The rhubarb cylinder was very acidic; it did not go well at all; nor did the little pile of goat’s cheese. Alongside was a nice little bowl of shepherds’ pie with confit lamb under potato purée with onion flakes sprinkled on top.
Shaun Hergatt, the chef, came by our table and we had an interesting chat. I expressed my dismay at the overdone acidic presence in two of the dishes. He said it was necessary to keep the cuisine interesting with so many courses. Naturally I disagreed and we bounced the subject around a bit.
Overall, the cuisine was Michelin two-star quality. The service was fine, although the pace became a bit too slow. Juni is certainly an important addition to the New York dining scene. Shaun Hergatt is a very talented chef.
To see our meal at Juni a year ago click here.