Inside Chinatown’s Highly Anticipated Juniper Restaurant Before Its Dec. 3 Opening

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Construction at the highly anticipated new Juniper restaurant in Chinatown is finally coming to a close. They had originally hoped to have opened in July, but as has been the case with goodness knows how many restaurants we’ve covered over the years, circumstances beyond their control intervened. I think it may have been a hood vent placement miscalculation, but who knows. As we’ve noted previously, 185 Keefer St. is in a brand new building; despite the promising appearance of a fresh start, original tenancies aren’t without their challenges.

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In any event, I took a look inside late last week as the front of house staff were assembled upstairs and being put through the paces of the restaurant’s wine program by GM/Sommelier Sarah Macauley. Also on hand was award-winning barman and Scout columnist Shaun Layton, who is overseeing Juniper’s craft bar program. While the crew were doing their thing getting schooled by Sarah, Shaun was kind enough to show me around on the main floor…

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From what I saw, it looked as if the kitchen was just about complete. It’s a sprawling, shiny, beautifully virginal thing with lots of toys, including a Scotsman ice machine for the bar (it makes perfect, chewable ice pebbles, ideal for juleps, mojitos, etc.). The dining room and bar both appeared to be in finishing mode, too. I love the custom, backlit shelving unit in the back bar, which is going to be all kinds of gorgeous once it’s loaded down with bottles. I also appreciated the copper details throughout – as seen in the twisting light fixtures and smoothly sunk into the bar top itself (the metal ties nicely into craft distilling theme – ie. copper stills). Also of attractive note is the tile work in front of the bar, and the new neon sign out front…

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I won’t go too much further into detail except to say that the falling log wall installation piece by Ricky Alvarez is awesome and the upstairs mural work by Ola Volo is some of her best work I’ve seen up close to date (there’s a big wolf up there who means business). I especially like how subdued her unique style looks at Juniper. The gunmetal blue/grey cools the mood a little; very different from her typically bright works (for a comparison, check out her mural at The Heatley. Take a look below for more. Opening day is set for Dec. 3rd. See you there.

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