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.
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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.
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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. 

The sommelier came by and we ordered a bottle of 2012 Ojai Vineyard (Santa Rita Hills) Pinot Noir.
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It had good pinot noir characteristics, which went well with the cuisine.

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:

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This was like a beetroot candy. Nice.

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I think this was oatmeal.

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These were two vegetable oysters; an oyster flavored white ball was sitting on an oyster leaf on top of a faux oyster shell cracker. 

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These were mashed potato balls with a lovely strong flavor of black truffles.

Linda’s first course was
spring inspiration
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English peas, small chunks of green asparagus, frozen chunks of  basil and spring leaves and flowers topped a sweet bacon cream.   Very good.

Her second course, and my first, was
hearts of palm – white asparagus – flavors of almond
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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 second course was
oyster mushrooms – geoduck – golden wine
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Underneath the oyster flavored foam were coarsely chopped geoduck clams, oysters and oyster mushrooms. Very good.

Linda’s third course was
oregon fiddleheads – prawns – citrus begonia
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The prawns were excellent and the basil purée flavorful. Three fiddlehead ferns and basil leaves finished the dish.

My third course, and Linda’s fourth, was
pomelosable codkalamansi
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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.

My fourth course was
lemon essence – nova scotia halibut – snow pea blooms
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The halibut was rich and nice. The green sauce had several elements, but basil dominated its flavors. 

Linda’s fifth course was
rabbit and the carrot
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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.

My fifth course was
rhubarb – elysian fields lamb – wild onions
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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.

The sixth course for both of us was
pear – sage – coffee
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This was enjoyable, but we could not really tell what was what. The foam was sage and coffee flavored.  The pear was not evident.

A little tray of exquisite mignardises finished things off.
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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.

3 Responses to “Juni, NYC 2”

  1. Thanks to your blog, I discovered Shaun’s haute cuisine at his former restaurant four years ago, and I was looking forward to having lunch at Juni! I went on april 6th and spring flavours from the menu were tasteful as usual, and I enjoyed desserts by Mina. I agree, the cuisine deserves two stars.

  2. Sam Spektor Says:

    What is white balsamic vinegar?

    • Michael Says:

      Hi Sam,
      It’s in blue so you could have clicked on it and read, among other wisdom:
      “White balsamic vinegar blends white grape must with white wine vinegar and is cooked at a low temperature to avoid any darkening. Some manufacturers age the vinegar in oak barrels, while other use stainless steel.

      The flavors of the two are very similar, although the dark balsamic is slightly sweeter and tends to be a little more syrupy. The white has more of a clean aftertaste. The main reason one would use white balsamic, rather than regular, is mostly aesthetic. It can be used with lighter colored foods, dressings, or sauces without any discoloring.”

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