first impression | The ever-tasty Juniper has moved to the other side of Lindell Boulevard, closer to the Cortex, and the new place is hopping (make a reservation). During its five years on North Boyle, it became known for solidly delicious Southern fare, particularly fried chicken, fried green tomatoes and some of the best biscuits anywhere. The new space is on the ground floor of a swank new condo building at Laclede Avenue and Sarah Street, with windows all around and funky decor.
» bread basket: 3/$5 or 5/$9; This is at the top of my list. Choose what you want from the selection, but do not pass up the popovers or the biscuits, both of which are amazing. The biscuit was a touch salty and sweet, and a lot rich and flaky. The huge popover was flavored subtly with roasted garlic and was deliciously puffy.
» fried chicken: two prices white: $10, two pieces dark: $8, half bird: $16; The fall-off crispy crust is a combination of thick buttermilk and flour, pumped up with a little fish sauce for that extra umami kick.
» baked oysters: about $4 each, depending on the market price; These are great, topped with cornbread crumbs and creamed corn.
» plate of southern country ham: $10; Plentiful and with the right amount of salt and smokiness, it’s served with soft, house-made flatbread, full-grain mustard and spiced peaches.
» shrimp ‘n’ grits: $25; This has amazing flavors from tomatillos, shishito peppers and bits of andouille sausage. The dish comes with ‘bloody butcher’s grits,’ a nickname for heritage red dent corn grits. They’re grainy and creamy at the same time and resemble a butcher’s apron in color. This dish is not filling, so be sure to order some of those biscuits, too.
» blackened catfish: $22; Catfish is elevated to gourmet fare here with a coating of tangy spices, chermoula (blended cilantro, parsley, garlic, lemon, paprika and cayenne) and a liberal drizzling of butter. The soft whitefish works well with this bold treatment, and a generous side of dirty rice laced with pork adds more heft. Beware, this dish is on the spicy side.
» pecan pie bread pudding: $8; It’s as good as it sounds—actually better since it’s served with bourbon cinnamon ice cream. An excellent bread pudding (crusty top and moist inner bread cubes), it was very tasty, but a few pecans notwithstanding, it didn’t really taste like pecan pie.
wash it down
There are beers (mostly local), a few wines and a good cocktail list. Our Tennis with Hemingway ($10) was a little sweet and heavy on citrus, with rum, Luxardo and St. Germain. Served in a daiquiri glass, it goes down easy and its kick comes later. As you’d expect of a Southern spot, bourbon dominates, but there’s something for every preference. Wine flights, three 2-ounce tastes, are offered at great prices: $12 to $14.
I’m glad owner John Perkins chose to leave the seminary to launch super-secret dinner pop- ups in 2008. And that he planted himself in a permanent spot in 2013. And that he’s been successful enough to double his space in a developing neighborhood. The food is as innovative and tasty as ever, with new dishes popping up next to old faves, thanks to chef Glenister Wells (formerly sous chef at Pastaria). Quality deserves to be recognized.
4101 Laclede Ave. | 314.329.7696
the dish | Grilled carrots with sorghum glaze and spiced carrot aioli