Austin Monthly's Jolène Bouchon considers Juniper, one of the many new Italian joints to crop up around Austin in 2015. She noted that Juniper's regional focus is on Northern Italy, which is a good fit for Austin because the similar climates lend themselves to overlaps in agricultural products, particularly beef.
Among Bouchon's favorites were the Bolognese made with brisket and a risotto with beets and mascarpone with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms that "give the dish a savory, meaty bite." Less successful dishes included the chilled squid that could have been "bolder." What really stuck in Bouchon's craw, though, were the small plates and lack of knives.
The menu is composed entirely of small plates—and I do mean small. [...] While I am growing weary of the ubiquity of the small-plate menu, I don’t deny that it’s an excellent way to sample many dishes. You will want to, because the ingredients, preparation and flavor combinations are top notch—but also if you hope to leave the restaurant feeling full.
The smaller portions led to inconsistent satiety, with Bouchon needing a nightcap of cereal before bed after one visit, and feeling just satisfied after another. What's more, the lack of utensils beyond the individual diner's fork and spoon raised etiquette concerns around cutting meat, touching food, and cross-contamination among shared plates.
Beyond that, Bouchon found the service "pitch perfect" and, while not textbook "Italian" food, declared Juniper to be among the more interesting among Austin's current surfeit of Italian restaurants.
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