Juniper & Ivy adds communal dinner service


Four years ago this week, Juniper & Ivy restaurant opened its doors in Little Italy.

Since then, Mike Rosen’s fine-dining restaurant has shown remarkable sticking power as one of the city’s top dining destinations. One reason is the celebrity cachet of its chef/partner Richard Blais. But another is the continuous evolution of the menu at the so-called “left coast cookery.”

Which brings us to the restaurant’s latest innovation, the Family Meal, which begins service on Friday.

Developed by executive chef Anthony Wells and chef de cuisine Masa Kojima, the Family Meal is a communal dinner for groups of six or more. The service will be available Fridays-Mondays only and priced at $150 per person, not including tax or tip. Beverage pairings are available at an additional cost.

The idea for the Family Meal grew out of a discussion between Rosen and Wells about how to follow up on the restaurant’s high-end tasting menu, which was popular but so labor-intensive that it could only be offered occasionally to a small group of diners.

“It’s really a way for the guest to let go and trust the kitchen to put out what we love and what inspires us,” Rosen said.

The Family Meal requires no advanced reservations but it will only be offered four nights a week and everyone at the table must agree to be part of the service. Depending on demand, there may be a limit on the quantity of tables that can order the service each night.

The seasonal menu will vary daily, but the set-up is essentially a four-course menu that begins with warm cheese gougeres and advances through a crudo course, a mid-course, a main course and a dessert. The food comes to the table on serve-yourself platters and the volume of food will be significant.

Many of the items served in the Family Meal will be drawn from the regular nightly menu, though the presentations will vary. Here’s a look at a sample menu that was tested with diners at the end of January. Each dish had service for six.

The crudo course included five items: ribeye tartare with truffle soy and pickled shiitake; oysters with shallots and Champagne jelly; rock fish with kumquat koshu; Meyer lemon ponzu and tangerine; sea urchin with sunchoke pudding and aged ham vinaigrette; and big eye tuna with sushi rice, sesame leaf and wasabi aioli.

The mid-course had two items: citrus and burratta salad with puffed grains, chicory and frozen yogurt; and a lamb belly rigatoni dish with Parmesan and poached egg.

The “main event” was a deboned roasted chicken served with chicken sausage, truffled risotto, foie gravy, Brussels sprouts and trumpet mushrooms.

The dessert was an entire fresh-baked strawberry pie served with fresh-made coconut/thyme ice cream.

Juniper & Ivy

Address: 2228 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy

Phone: (619) 269-9036

Online: Twitter: @pamkragen