Now, the last time I visited Cotham Road South’s Juniper Restaurant was back in October 2010 – an enjoyable meal with family which really showcased the restaurant’s British and Continental-inspired menu. We were recently invited back to review a special 5-course menu that was on offer, priced very keenly at just £25, considering the venue’s AA Rosette for culinary excellence.
With an amuse-bouche, a choice of two starters, mains and desserts plus a cheese course on offer, we were looking forward to being spoilt! The evening didn’t start too well after being shown to a dirty table with a sticky wine list, but on seeing the menu, we were anticipating good things.
Our amuse-bouche was served fairly quickly after we ordered, providing a welcome distraction during the wait for our starters. The first thing that struck me about the amuse-bouche was the presentation – very 80s! Rounds of white toast were topped with a creamy duck liver pate, a slice of cucumber, a mound of olive tapenade and half a cherry tomato.
I could have done without the sticky balsamic glaze and the cress, to be honest. The duck liver pate, however, was rich and melted in the mouth, and was an interesting combination with the tapenade, which was much chunkier than I’m used to and just the right level of salty.
The spinach and feta parcels that I ordered as my starter were perfectly cooked and with a decent amount of filling. Spinach and feta are a classic combination – you can’t really go wrong! What CAN go wrong, however, is the way in which the red pepper and cranberry relish is presented, and the bizarre “frame” of cress and cherry tomatoes at the edge of the plate. Very odd.
The 80s style garnishes reappeared for our mains. For me, a beautifully cooked fillet of Cornish grey mullet, served with crushed Jersey Royals, samphire (my main reason for choosing the dish…), broad beans and a rich shellfish dressing. A wonderfully summery dish which was perfectly cooked – but again, the presentation let it down.
For dessert, a beautiful warm Bakewell tart, the pastry lovely and crumbly, the filling sweet and sticky.
Our cheese board, to be honest, was a little bit of a disappointment. While the caraway biscuits were fantastic, the grapes were a little past their best, and the liberal use of cress was certainly a hark back to the 80s. The cheeses (Brie, Cheddar, Double Gloucester and Stilton – not the most exciting selection) weren’t particular attractively presented, but we enjoyed the chutney.
All in all, a little hit and miss. While we really enjoyed some of the courses, others were a little hit and miss. The presentation of each dish was also surprising, with liberal use of cress and retro garnishes not really seeming to be in keeping with what Juniper is trying to achieve. In all honesty, I preferred my 2010 meal at the restaurant, but we may well have just visited on an off day. I’d be interested to hear of other people’s experiences at Juniper…
Please note: this meal was received free of charge, but in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.
Find Juniper on the Bristol Bites Directory…