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Juniper Restaurant


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  • 1 month later...

Alas Juniper as it was is no more. I went last Saturday for the last service, which was a pretty enjoyable albeit somewhat strange experience. Strange I suppose in that I have never eaten in a restaurant that would cease to exist thereafter. To me Juniper is that special restaurant, it is where I had my first gastronomic epiphony. I am sure we all have had experiences like that, whereby a meal goes well beyond a dining experience.

Anyway the meal itself was classic Juniper: Starter was a Curried Rissotto, Shellfish Bisque, Banana, Sultanas, Cashews, which was very good, albeit I thought the banana was a piece of lobster so I left it to the end.

Main was an Assiette of Spring Lamb, Thyme and Sea Salt,White Chocolate Cookie, Chicory,Green Olives, Courgettes, Hollandaise, Garlic and Saffron Glaze. Again absolutely delicious. They very nicely did a Turbot dish for one of the party who is not to keen on lamb!

Pre dessert was cornflake milk with love heart powder

Grand Assiette of Cheese was ok some cheeses not in the best condition, but to be expected on the last day.

Dessert Lemon Tart, Hob Nob, Praline, Oatmeal and Bees Pollen ice-Cream. Very good dish fab lemon tart.

Usual Coffee and Petit Fours.

The atmosphere in the restaurant was great, obviously all guests were friends of Paul and Katie, so there was a lot of good byes and good lucks at the end. Infact it was a little emotional at times.

I also enjoyed complaining to the waiting staff after every course, telling them if they didn't do what I say I would make sure they would never work in this restaurant again. Some of you maybe surprised to hear that the tall French waiter was actually very witty and entertaining.

I think Juniper will be greatly missed in Manchester, it is a real shame it is going and I am unsure if another restaurant will ever create the same buzz nationally as it did. I could harp on about it forever, but I think Tony Naylor's fantastic piece in the OF blog really sums it up.

So good luck to Paul and Katie in Edinburgh which is looking to be one hell of a food destination. Oh and thanks for all the wonderful dining experiences. :wink:

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  • 4 months later...

The new regime at Juniper have clearly inherited the email address list from Paul Kitching, complete with my details.

For anyone interested, the re-opening under Michael Riemenschneider is scheduled for next Wed 8th Oct.

Other snippets include:

Diners not seated at Chef’s Table will be able to watch the kitchen action on screens in the main dining room.

Non alc offers will be a 5 course Menu Surprise @ £69 (£95 with wine), 12 course dégustation & £79 (£99 with wine, £125 with ‘iconic’ wines) and 18 course extravaganza @ £95 ( £125, £150).

The three courser lunch with amuse and pre-dessert will be ‘ a bargain’ £25.

The six strong kitchen team includes Gordon Ramsey and Nigel Haworth trained chefs.

Edited by malcolmwilliamson (log)
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Sounds good, I only wish they would change the name. To me Juniper was Paul Kitching and his unique style of cooking. If Heston left the Fat Duck and was replaced by another chef, would it still be the Fat Duck. Or if John, Paul, George and Ringo were replaced by four other musicians would they be the Beatles.

I know I am being pedantic but this new place can never be Juniper, however I hope it is fantastic and a gret addition to the food scene.

Saying that, knocking out 18 courses is quite reminiscent of the previous chef :huh:

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Or if John, Paul, George  and Ringo were replaced by four other musicians would they be the Beatles.

Yes - in much the same way as The Drifters PLC (or whatever it's actually called) trots out the "original music" in multiple locations worldwide. My last Juniper meal was in their final month and I was sadly disappointed - not a patch on previous visits.

For me, I'm just pleased to see the possibility of somewhere decent opening/reopening 10 minutes from home.

John Hartley

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Sounds good, I only wish they would change the name. To me Juniper was Paul Kitching and his unique style of cooking. If Heston left the Fat Duck and was replaced by another chef, would it still be the Fat Duck. Or if John, Paul, George  and Ringo were replaced by four other musicians would they be the Beatles.

I know I am being pedantic but this new place can never be Juniper, however I hope it is fantastic and a gret addition to the food scene.

Saying that, knocking out 18 courses is quite reminiscent of the previous chef :huh:

I am just glad that a serious contender is re-opening Manchester.

Cheers, Howard

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  • 2 months later...
Anyone been since the reopening? I'm booked for Saturday, and I'd be interested to learn anyone else's views.

Cheers, Howard

There you go Howard :smile:

Now it may be said that my love affair with the old Juniper was obsessive and sycophantic, and yes it was, but I honestly did not let that taint my experience at the new Juniper. I actually found some of the Manchester based reviews a little silly on this point, the only comparison between the two is the name and the shell of the building, and these two elements a restaurant do not make. In fact after reading such positive reviews I was expecting the Michelin level hole to be filled nicely after the departure of Mr Kitching. I ventured in with my mind as open as it could be, and expected to be wowed, unfortunately this was not to be.

I opted for the menu surprise, at £69, which was billed as five courses, but with amuse and petit fours ended up being ten.

Amuse: Celeriac and parsley foam ( I think): The start of a series of foams, which really throughout the meal did not taste anything like they were billed to do. Really bland and disappeared quickly into a scum stain on the plate. Foams are good when they taste of something, the foams I experienced here were vapid beyond belief. Foam for the sake foams, not good.

Two other amuses served with the above that do not stick in my mind.

Sea Bass: Olive -Potato- Fondue: This was one of the best dishes, fish in a deep rich stew, which also contained veal head, cheek, and tongue. Fish was well cooked and fresh. I would say the best dish.

Scallops: Ceviche-Tartar-Chorizo. The scallop was good, the Ceviche-Tartar-Chorizo were much better. Came with another pointless foam, and an Aitkens type smear of Juniper, which worked nice with the cauliflower (puree and powder)

Langoustine: Pearl Barley- Asparagus- Jus Crustace: The signature dish I am led to believe. This was ok, nothing that exciting, did not blow me away in originality, taste or combination of ingredients. The asparagus itself did little to the dish, Samphire may have been better. As I say it was Ok.

John Dory: Ratatouille-Oxtail-Beetroot: This has to be the most horrid dish I have had in a long time, anywhere. Here’s the idea if I have got it right. Two pieces of dory served on a slate, one side is cold the other is warm ( Mr Riemenschneider does not served hot food as the taste buds apparently don’t work above a certain temperature). The problem being both sides ended up being cold ( is slate the best heat conductor)? Anyway the slate was all visuals, swirls of colour everywhere, ‘jellies’, foams etc etc. Really over the top in presentation, which could have been forgiven if it all did not taste so bad. Some examples, the so called vegetable jellies, were horrid, especially the grey ones (aubergine maybe). Why would you want a jelly made out of vegetable? Which in fact did not have the texture of jelly at all, but more the consistency of reconstituted and moulded mashed up, cold, under seasoned and bland vegetables. The oxtail was in the form of pasta I think which suffered the fate of going cold and rubbery. The worst was on the warm side which is now the cold side, mashed potato, wrapped in a courgette, which was stone cold and under seasoned, no one can get away with cold bland mash, really made me wretch. What a waste and insult to such a fine fish that is the John Dory.

Funnily the chef told me later that a customer complained about this dish because she did not get what she ordered, that is, ratatouille. He explained that some people may not understand the concept, regarding temperature, form, texture etc. I understood the concept but it does not distract from the simple fact that this dish is wrong in temperature, form, texture, but more importantly taste.

Sorbet: Passion fruit sorbet.

Venison: Boudin Noir-Beef-Sweetbreads: A really strange dish. What you have on the plate are slices of venison on a bed of beef tartar, sweetbreads, black pudding and potato slices, duck wonton, three slices of courgette and a tasteless foam. Far too much differing meats on one plate, almost like a bizarre mixed grill, with the courgette acting as the grilled tomato. The foam of course turned to scum and left the dish a mass of dry and again under seasoned meat. Not sure if tartar is best served under slices of vension? The duck wonton was clumped dry meat, lacking flavour and the wonton coating was very dry. Really could not work the dish out at all.

At this point I was hoping no more mains would arrive, thankfully they did not.

Pre dessert: Chestnut, which was ok, but unmemorable

Plum: Mascarpone-Almond-Doughnut: This was nice, good combination, one plum was soaked in Sauternes, and the doughnut although a good idea, was quite dry.

Usually at the end of tasting menu, I feel quite happy and reflective over the meal, here I felt very disappointed and unsatisfied about my experience. I actually was craving some good well cooked, basic, and flavoursome food. I then got to think was it me, was I being over critical, but after reflection, I really do not think so, this was mixed up cooking that has forgot about the simple point that what makes food good is how it tastes. It is a shame as I was hoping to make Juniper a regular, like I did the previous incarnation.

Service was quite good in the main , very polished and reflective of the heights it was trying to achieve. In fact bar a sommelier trying to take me above the drink drive limit, it was all good.

I spoke to MR afterwards who was very charming and I know is really putting his all into this venture, which I hope it works out for him.

I know this is a little negative but I am really disappointed, maybe I came on a bad day or maybe my dining alone put some form of pressure on the staff ( the dreaded ‘is he an inspector’ phenomenon)? Yet again with the background of the team working here you would not expect so.

I hope to hear conflicting reviews’ from others on here and if so I may have to dig deeper into my psyche to see if the absence of Paul Kitching has caused more trauma than I realised

Edited by RDB (log)
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Anyone been since the reopening? I'm booked for Saturday, and I'd be interested to learn anyone else's views.

Cheers, Howard

There you go Howard :smile:

....

Uh-oh: how I wish I'd never asked! Thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts. I am now looking forward to this weekend with buttock clenching afrontery, if there is such a thing.

Cheers, H

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Howard if it is any reassurance all the 'professional' critics have raved about it, and no doubt I am totally wrong. I will be really interested to hear the opinion of someone who appears to eat out as much as you! :smile:

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Howard if it is any reassurance all the 'professional' critics have raved about it, and no doubt I am totally wrong. I will be really interested to hear the opinion of someone who appears to eat out as much as you!  :smile:

I particularly share your view about "pointless foam". Form over function I'm afraid. I remember The Square also seems to have a recurrant affliction with the cappuccino machine. Billy Drabble once told me that chefs use foams because it stopped a skin forming on top of sauces. Ever since then whenever I see a foam I suspect how long it might've been sitting on the pass.

H

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Well I went on Saturday with three others. I attempted to get the Chef's table on two occasions only to be told that they'd call back. They didn't. And guess what? There isn't one. Not yet anyway. Some time next year apparently.

We also had the Surprise menu. Chef is quite full of himself. He introduced himself and proceeded to tell us about the gazillions of 3* places he's worked in, dropping names like Ramsay, Gagnaire and Ducasse, then said he was only 26 years of age.

In two words - foam city. The first course (the scallop - note the singular) had a completely tasteless foam. Other foams were marginally more tasty but you has to search for it. When taken to task, it was revealed that it was because it was a more healthy way to eat using a foam apparently. Chef's attitude when we mentioned the foam after the meal (under his own solicitation) was "if that was all that was wrong..." was like a red rag to a bull.

I won't bore you with the menu, because it bores me thinking about it, except to say that the beef course was ridiculously tasteless.

Apparently he has twelve in the kitchen. You need them for the fancy layout and multitude of ingredients to prepare for each mini mouthful, but sadly it was lacking in the taste department.

We imbibed on the "Iconic" wine selection. But the sommelier had never tried any of the courses and it truly showed rather dramtically I'm afraid.

When offered the choice of two different wines on some courses, I asked if we could try half and half, thereby hopefully enhancing the experience, which it did, until the bill came: more in a tick.

In general, I found the service was really rather good except that the sommelier had a nasty urge to clear away wines well before they were finished.

The bill arrived. We had been over charged for two bottles of Bolly, where they showed a fiver over the menu price on each. That made me look a little closer. There was a real mess where we were charged a number of different supplements, only one of which made sense. I still don't understand it now, but it was to do with the wine selections (having half and half) amoung other things. Needless to say on the ~£600 tab we were over charged over £110.

I wanted this to work out. Hopefully one day soon it will. It takes a lot of balls to set up something like this out in the provinces, and I really do want it to work for them and for Manchester. I haven't quite given up. Yet.

Cheers, Howard

** Edit: sorry, was in a rush to get out so didn't proof read anything. Hopefully corrected most of it now.

Edited by howardlong (log)
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We also had the Surprise menu. Chef is quite full of himself. He introduced himself and proceeded to tell us about the gazillions of 3* places he's worked in, dropping names like Ramsay, Gagnaire and Ducasse, then said he was only 26 years of age.

hmmm, i wonder in a non-libellous fashion how well that CV would stand up to legal verification :hmmm:

i thought this sounded like a doomed venture before it opened, i'd like to be proved wrong as i know how hard it is setting up and running any restaurant but it does have a strong feeling of running before they can walk. Much like i thought anthonys would be when i heard of an ex el bulli chef opening in leeds and i was proven quite wrong :laugh:

you don't win friends with salad

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  • 2 weeks later...

Seems like you had a similar experience to me Howard both in food and service. Interestingly I was bored rigid with the name dropping, in fact I may have misheard him, but I am sure he stated he did a stint with Escoffier at the Savoy!

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  • 4 weeks later...
Seems like you had a similar experience to me Howard both in food and service. Interestingly I was bored rigid with the name dropping, in fact I may have misheard him, but I am sure he stated he did a stint with Escoffier at the Savoy!

Hello all, this is my first post.

I went to juniper towards the end of October - Lunch was about £15 and was good value for money.

A trio of tasters were followed by pork with frog’s legs & scallops with cauliflower and caramel. A good fresh passion fruit sorbet followed before mains of sea bass and John Dory which were very fresh and a good size. On the down side the food could have been hotter and some of the components were slightly lacking polish (spaetzli) I passed on dessert but was served complimentary pre desert of duo of plumb with sorbet.

The service was good and for the cost the meal was decent value. Not sure I would be willing to spend £70 or £80 on tasting menus however.

Cheers,

Martin

Martin

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Latest rumour (yet to be properly substantiated in any way, shape or form) is that Juniper has "gone".

I'm sure that either way the truth will surface during the day so I'll keep you updated.

If it is true then I'm rather miffed that I never even got to go!

I'm sure we can build this "fact" into a "fine dining in Manchester still struggling" thread but to balance this out I must point out that I tried to book in Abode for a Saturday night with six days notice and got told they're booked out about three weeks ahead of time, and equally I couldn't get in Harvey Nichols either.

I did though get in HN on Friday and had a very, very good meal indeed. The main course of halibut with tum te tum was very decent, but the starter (scallop and pigs cheek hash brown) and dessert (an assiette of apple thingy) were absolutely superlative and as good as anything I've eaten in the last eighteen months.

Cheers

Thom

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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If it is true, I am not surprised. I think less to do with fine dining in Manchester, but more to do with a chef who is not up to producing fine dining, in erm, Manchester, or Penzance for that matter.

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If this is true then I too am gutted that I never got to go. I'd be interested to know where this rumour has come from but to add fuel to the fire, I've walked past twice in the last week or so and had a good peek through the window - no tables, chairs or artwork. Sad for Alty and sad for Manchester dining if true.

Always hungry.

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Closure is now being reported by Manchester Confidential. And they are also reporting the closure of Brasserie Blanc.

http://www.manchesterconfidential.com/inde...=Juniper_closes

This is not a good week for the area's eating. And I'm also miffed I never got to go.

Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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