This is probably the last Ottawa restaurant review I’ll be doing, at least while I actually live in Ottawa! Rich and I had the pleasure of heading here on December 30th with two friends and another lovely couple we’d just met that evening.
Juniper has long been one of our favourite restaurants in Ottawa. Like most fine dining places in the city, they offer ‘casual fine dining’ in a beautifully decorated space. We used to frequent Juniper when they were at their previous location in Hintonburg, and always had excellent service and good food. They also tended to add that special touch; Rich chose to go there for his 30th birthday back in 2005, and the sommelier gave him free ice wine for dessert.
While watching the new location be renovated, we were a bit concerned about how they would deal with being directly beside the Subaru dealership. In fact, the space they moved into used to be the dealership, but it renovated and moved directly next door. On top of that, they’ve got the LCBO and a Superstore right across the street, making for less-than-ideal people watching.
Once inside, however, it’s very nice. Soft lighting and intimate seating allows for a comfortable meal. Tinted windows and blinds that can be pulled down allow for privacy (although I am told the blinds are not always operational). A nicely decorated bar allows for some space to sit while you wait for a table. The only thing I saw that doesn’t fit is their patio, which is open during the warmer months. While it is fenced in, it still overlooks the Subaru dealership, so didn’t seem to have much appeal. I think I only ever saw Juniper’s own staff using it.
Probably by now you are asking yourself, ‘but how was the food?’. Well, I started with the mushroom tempura satay, which was fantastic. I could have easily eaten double my portion (although I’m not sure how much my waistline would have appreciated that!). Rich ordered the same thing and was similarly pleased. My main course was the organic salmon, which was supposed to be poached with quince and apple, but to be honest the fruit flavours were extremely subtle and almost lost with the flavours of the accompanying vegetables. However, others at the table were more impressed with their main dishes. One had the vegetarian dish, which was beautifully presented in a small gourd, and apparently was quite delicious. Others had the beef and said it was perfectly done.
For dessert I ordered the chocolate tasting plate. It is probably one of the better desserts I’ve been served in a restaurant. One part was a shotglass of chocolate-strawberry soup. Another was a small serving of chocolate ganache mousse, served with a homemade marshmallow. All were exactly what I wanted for dessert.
With dinner we had a wonderful bottle of Cabernet Shiraz that our server recommended. I tend to not like Cabernet as I find it doesn’t have enough body (the mid-palate, fleshy, berry flavours) and is all finish. But this was a nicely balanced wine with the Shiraz filling out those holes. Lots of pepper, plum, and black cherries. Maybe not the best choice for my salmon, but excellent on its own.
Overall, I’m glad we got the chance to check out Juniper’s new location before our move to Toronto, and I’m glad it’s the last restaurant we’ll go to while we live in Ottawa. I’d much rather leave the city with good memories of the food scene, and Juniper was up to the task.
Juniper, 245 Richmond Road, (613) 728-0220. Dinner for two with wine, $150.