They had me at the very first glass of gluhwein. And the mere mention of vanilla and dried coriander marinated lamb chops with red wine jus.
Junipa’s is a firm favourite in Joburg’s Northern Suburbs for sun-seeking brunchers and lunchers who traditionally soak up the rays and delicious happy-making food on the terrace. But it’s less well known for its cosy bistro ambience and for serving up an abundance of winter comfort food. And it shouldn’t be. The terrace is enclosed in winter by beautiful floor to ceiling glass doors, and the result is a deliciously cosy cocoon where you feel instantly at home.
Junipa’s is owner run and managed, and you can taste the love and care in every bite. Julian and Andy (aka Mr & Mrs Junipas) are clearly well-seasoned hosts, and have poured their lives into feeding good, honest, wholesome food to friends and family. Brian was our waitron was attentive without being invasive. It takes over 50 staff to keep this ship afloat, and they definitely give the impression of being a very well-oiled machine, without an ounce of overly slick. Let’s just say there’s a big focus on the small.
So What Did We Eat?
Executive Chef Jean-Pierre has clearly thought long and hard about the food he was going to put on the menu this winter. He’s opted for slow-cooked, well-loved food that is not overly polished or serious, and with old-fashioned values and a contemporary twist.
I unashamedly ordered the Oxtail with risotto fritter, roasted root vegetables and marsala jus – and regretted not one bite. The meat fell off the bone just as it should, and the red wine jus was deep and earthy and rounded things off beautifully.
My Mom had the lamb chops, and even with that plate full of succulent oxtail in front of me, I have to admit that I might have been mildly envious. The vanilla and dried coriander marinate was enchanting.
Rob’s plate of Salmon, fennel sauté, horseradish beurre blanc and dauphinoise potatoes was wiped absolutely clean, with generous ooh-ing and aah-ing accompanying every mouthful.
And he then, somehow, found room for the home-made Malva Pudding, with just one dollop of ice-cream thankyouverymuch. And it was pretty amazing. There was something about the gorgeously gooey butterscotch-style topping that had us all jousting over the plate with our spoons.
And What Will I Eat Next Time?
Because there will be a next time. I think I’d give the Chicken, broccoli, gorgonzola and almond pie a whirl, or maybe even the creamy hand-crafted bangers with fluffy mash.
Let’s not forget that they have a pukka pizza oven ready to do your bidding 7 days a week; a (pretty smashing) live band on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons; a wine list to rival any self-respecting eatery in Jozi; a well thought out daily specials menu and the best bloomin’ croissants in town.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 7 days a week.
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- Sarah Graham