One of the restaurants I’ve really been looking forward to on our anticipated openings list is Juke in Chinatown. This is, of course, chiefly on account of its focus on fried chicken, which I love dearly. This is the basic scoop on the spot, which we published back in October of last year:
Justin Tisdall has succumbed to Chambar Effect, that odd force that regularly turns former employees of the perennial Beatty Street favourite (and Scout 25 regular) into restaurateurs — and usually very successful ones.
He and Hawksworth sous chef Bryan Satterford have pooled their resources with the support of Meat & Bread co-owner Cord Jarvie. Together, the triumvirate has secured the brand new, concrete and glass ground floor spot at 182 Keefer Street. The 1,530 sqft location occupies the northwest corner of the new Westbank Building in Chinatown, which – as these photos plainly indicate – is still very much under construction.
With it, they’re planning for a 48 seat, fully licensed fried chicken and rib eatery called Juke. 1/3 of the space will be dedicated to takeaway service, while the other 2/3 will operate as a full service restaurant. The window will be open all day until close, while the restaurant will be dinner only to start, with Saturday and Sunday brunches.
They opened their doors last night for a friends and family service, which I was thrilled to attend with my wife and our two boys (both of whom are committed fried chicken freaks). It’s a small space, but they’ve done a fine job with it. We sat at the communal hightop that splits the room in three. Beside me was a collection of cozy booths; behind me was the bar, and in front of me was a long banquette that ended where the take-out operation began. It feels a lot bigger than it actually is, no doubt on account of its glass frontage and high ceilings. Hats off to designers Casey Burgess and Arnold Chan of Ply Architecture for making the most of the square footage, and to Pacific Solutions Contracting for the full vision and execution. It really looks good. Also of note is the branding by Glasfurd & Walker (the take-out boxes are pretty sweet).
The staff looked as if they had everything under control last night, and all the food we tried was delicious, from the Rossdown Farm fried chicken (so crispy and perfectly seasoned) and little chicken sandwiches to the Dirty Fries (hot sauce, gravy, cheese sauce) and peach sweetened pecorino and tomato salads. We also dug the couple of cocktails we tried (the bar looks like it’s be a sweet hang addition to a neighbourhood crawl that also includes the tasty like of Bao Bei, Mamie Taylor’s, Kissa Tanto, Sai Woo, and Juniper). Secret weapon: the baking! The biscuits we tried were absolutely fantastic, and made wicked decadent with a side of smear-ready whipped schmaltz.
They’re hosting another controlled service tonight and expect to open on Friday night to the public (July 28th). The take-out service is set to launch Friday lunchtime. Bonus: 14 seat Keefer St. sidewalk patio has yet to be built, but it’s coming before summer’s end. Take a look…