185 Keefer St, Vancouver – Website
Date of Visit: July, 2017
I happened to stop by at Juniper for a beer after traipsing around Chinatown on a hot afternoon. The place has a huge list of unique cocktails, a pretty decent wine list, and also a handful of craft beers. I ended up having two beers and, after perusing the menu, I decided to come back for a meal…
Juniper is a very modern and trendy sort of place and obviously popular with the after work crowd. It was nearly packed when I arrived at 5:30 on a Monday, and quite raucous with chatter, but the crowd thinned out a little by the time I had had a drink and was well into my meal. The service was understandably a little slow for the first part of my visit but my waiter was very friendly and seemed delighted to discuss the various items on the food and beverage menus. The former is fairly short and lists 3 ‘snacks’, 3 ‘boards’ (charcuterie, cheeses, and mixed), 7 small plates, 5 large plates, and 3 sweets. I made one selection each from the snack, small plate, and large plate sections:
Pickles – These are house made pickles and included cauliflower, cornichons, red pepper, ramps and purple heirloom carrot. They were obviously a ‘short pickle’ and the fresh taste of the individual ingredients shone nicely through the light, slightly sweet pickling medium. The carrots had a lovely earthy taste and the ramps were especially sweet with a terrific garlicky flavor.
Bone Marrow – This dish from the small plate section was a first for me. It was a long section of beef bone cut lengthwise to expose the marrow, and it was sprinkled with raw diced apple and fresh flat-leaf parsley. There were two slices of grilled sourdough bread on the side. I was a bit ambivalent with respect to the marrow… It didn’t have quite as strong a beef impact as I was expecting and reminded me a little of the soft fat at the edge of a steak; Not bad, just not that interesting. The parsley complimented it nicely but the acidity of the apple, for my taste, was a bit jarring. The sourdough bread, on the other hand, was excellent.
Duck – This was sections of roast breast served with fennel, pickled peach and beets. The beets were excellent and I loved the pickled peach with the duck meat. I was less keen on the fennel, however… It was raw and, while very nice by itself, I didn’t find that the taste, nor the texture, paired with the rest. Had it been sautéed, say as a bed for the duck pieces, I think that would have worked better. As for the duck, the meat was very tender and the skin nicely crisp. My only quibble was that it was more rare than I like. I find that duck needs to be cooked just a little more to really develop the flavor. That is only a matter of personal taste, however, and I enjoyed this selection and thought it well conceived and executed.
I didn’t like everything about my meal but the issues I had were ones of personal taste rather than any flaw in the preparation. Everything I had was well executed and nicely plated and the service, in general, was excellent. Juniper is not cheap, but it is not expensive either and I would return for another visit given the opportunity.