Sherman's Food Adventures: JuneBaby


The last time I was in Seattle, which was in August 2018, I had planned to visit one of the hottest restaurants in JuneBaby.  The reason?  Head chef Edouardo Jordan picked up 2 James Beard awards in 2018 - Best Chef Northwest and Best New Restaurant in the country.  Yes, those are some pretty big accolades!  I never got around to JuneBaby, but this time around I would not be denied, even if it meant going on a Friday night.  The plan was to arrive as it opened for dinner service at 5:00pm.  It worked, we got a table right away, but there was a lineup and the room pretty much filled up instantly.

We got things started with the Nashville Hot Chicken Livers and the Fried Pig Ears.  Looking pretty wicked, the livers were served on a Nancy Lee roll, pickles & coleslaw.  Fairly crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside, the livers were fried beautifully.  Each moist nugget was flavorful and of course with a kick.  They weren't overly spicy which meant we could enjoy them without asking for milk.  The pickles were not merely a garnish as they added a nice crunch and acidity.  We only wished there were more.  Light and almost airy, the pig ears were crunchy and exuded plenty of "porkiness".  This was amped by the spicy honey and cooled slightly by the pecan butter.  Pickled grapes added both sweetness and tang while the Asian pear added a light crunch.  This was a great snack with my Standard Sour.

Something that they are known for is their Buttermilk Biscuits with pure cane syrup.  These were indeed good with fluffy and buttery internals surrounded by a firmly crunchy exterior.  Although the crunch was super appealing and texturally on point, some parts were actually hard which made for a tough mouth feel.  Loved dipping it into the pure cane syrup as the sweetness was a nice compliment while the depth of sweetness was somewhat complex.    For our side, we chose the Southern Rice of the Day with Fried Shrimp.  This was plenty flavorful with red and green peppers, onions and little nuggets of shrimp.  There was a minor brininess that went with the sweetness of the peppers.  The rice itself was tender while retaining a bite.  I found the fried shrimp to be perfectly cooked with a meaty snap.  Unfortunately, they were a tad salty.

For our mains, I went for Momma Jordan's Oxtails with root veggies and king trumpet mushrooms.  Plated with 3 large oxtails, this dish looked fantastic and appetizing.  I would say most of the oxtail was fork tender and fatty.  As usual, the softened tendon of the oxtails were silky and delicious.  However, some parts were rather dry.  I know this will upset Momma Jordan, but I'll have to say it - the oxtails were far too salty.  If it were served with white rice, I think it would've worked, but this was not the case.  With the same salty oxtail, my daughter's Burgoo was quite tasty.  When we mixed the oxtail with the rice, broth, veggies and chicken, it added both depth and impact to a relatively mild dish.  Loved how it was hearty and full of meat.  Definitely a meal in itself despite being moderately priced.

Viv had the Smoked Turkey Breast with golden chanterelle, squash and kale which was completely different than what we had in our minds.  This was actually a good thing because the dish had some good surprises.  First, the turkey was moist, tender and smoky with a well-rendered crispy skin.  Second, the broth/sauce was rather acidic which brightened up an otherwise mild-tasting dish.  The play on smoky and tangy was an unexpected, but tasty combination.  Unfortunately, the kale (like the shrimp and oxtails) was too salty.  My son ended up with the most impressive dish with the Brisket Dinner featuring white bread, BBQ sauce, home fries and sautéed cauliflower.  The large slices of brisket were reminiscent of the one we had at Franklin (according to him).  I tried it and it was smoky, peppery and melt-in-mouth tender.  Yes, I would have to agree with him.  The BBQ sauce was more on the vinegary side though, went well with the home fries.

For dessert, we shared both the Chocolate Apricot Bread Pudding and the Spiced Apple Cranberry Betty.  As the name suggested, nestled within the soft and slightly dense bread pudding, there were nuggets of dark chocolate and apricot.  It wasn't overly sweet where we could taste the slight bitterness of the chocolate combined with the sweetness of the apricots.  The orange Anglaise went really well with the bread pudding as it was lightly sweet and citrusy aromatic.  For me, I loved the Betty as the crunchy bits were a lovely contrast to the soft, sweet and tart berries and apple.  Again, this was not an overly sweet dessert despite the visuals which meant the ice cream could stand on its own where the end taste of bourbon really came through.  To add another layer of sweet tang, the lemon curd did just that.  These were 2 nice finishing touches on a pretty tasty meal.  Yes, it wasn't perfect and some might even think that JuneBaby doesn't live up to the accolades, but I am more pragmatic.  Considering the price point, it was still an enjoyable experience.

The Good:
- Reasonable pricing
- It is soul food, it has a story
- Great service

The Bad:
- A little salty
- No reservations for smaller groups, you have to wait in line


cathycc said...

Glad you enjoyed Junebaby! I agree that their food is on the salty side. I visited Salare (the sister restaurant) for brunch after our visit to Junebaby and it did not disappoint!

Sherman said...

@cathycc I need to go to Salare next time!

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