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Tasteful Ambience

Built around a farm-to-table concept, Juniper, a bistro specializing in American cuisine with classic French and European influences, provides the perfect atmosphere for toasting and tasting.

Article
Tiffany Duncan
Photos
Valerie Grant
Posted
March 29, 2017

There are good restaurants, and then there are exceptional restaurants, the places you might choose to celebrate a special anniversary or that long-awaited promotion. When lifting a glass to life’s big moments, everything from the atmosphere to the food should complement the occasion, and Juniper in the Blue Dome District stands out as one of Tulsa’s top dining venues for toasting and tasting.

Juniper is an intimate corner bistro specializing in American cuisine with classic French and European influences. The cozy interior is accented with exposed red brick and charming farmhouse flair — very much the perfect setting to savor a special meal with friends or linger over drinks with a date. But with $8 lunch specials and an easy comfortable vibe, Juniper makes for a great workweek eatery as well.

With a team of vetted culinary chefs, two in-house sommeliers, and an oft-rotating menu featuring only what is freshest and in season, all plates and libations at Juniper are crafted from an expert depth of knowledge. 

Justin Thompson, owner and concept designer of Juniper also heads the JTR Group in Tulsa. Other JTR Group restaurants include PRHYME: Downtown Steakhouse, Tavolo Restaurant and Italian Coffee Shop, and 624 Kitchen and Catering. Though these four restaurant concepts have completely different menus and atmospheres, each one enjoys its own successful following because of Thompson’s commitment to quality and decades of experience in the restaurant business. 

Working in and around the kitchen since he was 16, Thompson has occupied positions ranging from sous chef at Polo Grill to being the featured chef for a fundraiser dinner for President Bill Clinton. Currently, Thompson spends much of his time at Juniper, where he works closely with his hand-selected head kitchen chefs to taste and critique both new dishes and classic favorites. 

“Juniper is my baby,” says Thompson. “My dad and I did everything from framing and building it to salvaging the brick you see on the inside. At Juniper, we are a farm-to-table concept, sourcing as much local as we can to keep the money right here in Tulsa. Our seasonal menu changes three to four times a year, and our specialty features change weekly — which all equals out to about 500 new dishes a year, and between 2,000 and 3,000 since opening in 2011.”

Many of Juniper’s uniquely delicious dishes cannot be found anywhere else in Tulsa, and though the menu changes often, a few dishes are so popular they remain available year-round. One of these is the Maple Port Arugula Salad: a bed of arugula topped with candied pecans, apples, maple port vinaigrette, and blue cheese ice cream. Yes, you read that right — blue cheese ice cream. This not-too-sweet infusion of blue cheese and ice cream base melts decadently into the salad, intensifying as it warms and acting as a second dressing. 

Juniper's Grilled Chef's KC Strip
Grilled Chef's KC Strip (Photo: Valerie Grant)

Another menu staple is the smoked buttermilk sweet carrot soup. “The story behind the sweet carrot soup is kind of funny,” says Thompson. “I made that recipe up while still working at The Brasserie. I took it to my boss at the time to see if we could add it to the menu, and he said, ‘Well it tastes good, but I don’t think anyone’s going to want to buy carrot soup.’ I put it on the menu as soon as we opened Juniper and it has been our No. 1 seller ever since.”

Other popular menu items at Juniper include brown butter trout, honey bourbon glazed salmon, and fried Brussels sprouts prepared with local beer vinegar, cranberry, and lardon (flavorful pork fat). The grilled chef’s KC strip is also a best-seller, served with a bourbon chamomile sweet potato, charred Broccolini, veal jus, and pickled shallots. 

From sauces to sides, every single aspect of Juniper’s menu is crafted with intentionality, creativity, and integrity. The weekly changing chef’s specials often have a theme, like Rt. 66 or something else engaging fun, and tasty. Many of the herbs used to prepare the dishes are grown right behind Juniper in their alleyway garden, and many other ingredients and products are also sourced locally: Juniper’s cheese and dairy products come from Lomah Dairy out of Wyandotte, Okla.; the fish and seafood are acquired through Bodean’s, another longtime Tulsa business; and the coffee Juniper serves is from Topeca Coffee Roasters. 

When it comes to wines and cocktails, Juniper’s drink menu shines just as bright as the cuisine. T.C. LeRoy, JTR Group’s beverage director is a certified sommelier and works with Juniper to continue to develop their sizable wine list, design new cocktails, and perfect classic cocktail recipes. 

“We do a lot of liquor infusions,” says Thompson. “We don’t really tend to buy a lot of flavored vodkas because we like to create our own by using a base liquor and whatever fruit products we add to it to impart flavor.” 

These infusions currently include a Serrano and citrus vodka and blueberry vodka, a roasted pecan aged rum, apple cinnamon bourbon, a cucumber dill gin, and grilled rosemary tequila. Juniper’s house infusions may be ordered to enhance guests’ favorite mixers or in one of Juniper’s signature drinks, like the Blue Dome. The Blue Dome is made with blueberry vodka, elderflower liqueur, lime, and mint. Another delicious (and frankly adorable) drink unique to Juniper is their Autumn in Manhattan, which is made with their apple cinnamon bourbon, sweet vermouth, and baked apple bitters. 

Like Juniper’s food menu, the lists of infusions, cocktails, and wines are always changing to keep tastes varied and interesting, and the taps include a rotating selection of local beers as well. 

“We have a great menu. From food to drinks, it’s all very approachable, not only for special occasions and date nights but also for just a random Monday or Tuesday as well,” encourages Thompson. If you’ve never been to Juniper, grab a friend, a date, or forget everyone else and just treat yourself to one of the best dining experiences in Tulsa (did we mention that blue cheese ice cream?!).

LOCATOR
Juniper
324 E. 3rd St. | Tulsa
918-794-1090
junipertulsa.com
Monday-Friday: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 4-10 p.m.
Saturday: 4-10 p.m.
Sunday: Closed

January 2019 Cover