Last night I attended the opening party for the new Juniper restaurant in Chinatown. which is run by owners Lilian Steenbock and Emilio Zorrilla de la Garza.
The 104-seat, spirit-forward 2,800 sq ft restaurant and lounge, designed by Simcic & Uhrich Architects, is committed to showcasing the best of Cascadia. From rocky shores to fragrant rainforests to arid deserts, Juniper has sought out the homegrown and handmade, forging relationships with producers and suppliers who share a reverence for craftsman-like quality and time-honoured traditions. The falling log wall installation piece by Ricky Alvarez is vibrant and welcoming located on the main level close to the entrance. Upstairs you will find mural work by Ola Volo, her latest work that took 5 days to paint as a tone on tone in gunmetal blue grey.
Internationally acclaimed bartender Shaun Layton’s (formerly at L’Abattoir) influence behind the wood, with a broad selection of artisanal and small-batch spirits as well as a rotating selection of curated ciders and craft beers. In a winking acknowledgement of the Juniper name, Shaun has introduced a gin-forward concept: A constantly evolving list of Gin & Tonics where different gins are poured with specific tonics based on the marriage of their aromatics. He has brought in a Scotsman ice machine for the bar and truly one of a kind as explained to me, Juniper is the first bar in Canada to feature this type of ice machine which makes perfect chewable ice pebbles to keep the ice from melting too quickly in the cocktails.
Guests enjoyed Negroni’s from their on tap system, along with Gin and Tonic’s from the Gin and Tonic Bar. As well Chef Sarah Stewart (formerly at Edible Canada) offered up a selection of bites from her menu that included Chicken Fried Rabbit along with a stellar Cheese and Charcuterie spread.
Keeping the room on point is Operations Manager Sarah McCauley (formerly at Bacchus at the Wedgewood, Cin Cin, Bluewater Café). Sarah is also the driving force behind the regional wine program, which focuses on new and little-known gems from up and down the Pacific Coast.
By: Richard Wolak