Juniper

Eclectic | New American
legendary
Worth driving from anywhere!
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Located in what used to be a hardware store and outfitted with vintage chrome-banded kitchenette tables across creaky wooden floors, Juniper is an unlikely setting for elegant cuisine. But ease a knife down through a quail breast medallion, fork up a shred or two of flash-fried chiffonade of collards, and it’s apparent that you are in a restaurant that answers to a higher calling.

Chef Brandon Velie, who opened the place along with his wife, Jeanne Velie, in 2005, makes a point of using local ingredients (the quail and collards come from nearby) to create worldly meals. Beef is secured at Yon Family Farm, less than a mile away; tomatoes, squash, corn, peaches, and berries all are from area growers. For all the localism, there is nothing provincial about Juniper’s bill of fare. One day at Sunday brunch, I tucked into authentic cassoulet made with duck confit (the ducks are South Carolinians) followed by heavenly Italian cream cake for dessert.

Much of the food served is classic Southern, but classic at its pinnacle. Grits, for example. While you find bland side-dish grits all over Dixie, South Carolina cooks tend to make them something special. Shrimp and grits, which really ought to be the state dish, is good evidence of how significant this grain can be when cooked right, as it is at Juniper. Adluh grits, a brand that has been stone-ground in Columbia since 1900, are the basis of a splendid shrimp and grits bowl, which also includes a spill of whatever local vegetables are fresh at the moment: sweet corn kernels, butter beans, squash. The grits are so delicious – so earthy, so deeply flavored – that I asked what seasonings or techniques are used to make them. “None,” came the reply from the kitchen. Starting with good grits – and these are some of the best – the only secret is to cook them a long, long time (with lots and lots of cream and butter, of course). “Slow cooking brings out the starch and all its creaminess,” I was told. Amen to that! Shrimp and grits is an every-Friday lunch special.

A few other need-to-know dishes are meat loaf every Monday and herb-crusted chicken on Tuesday, macaroni and (pimento) cheese, and fried chicken on a sweet potato waffle. At dinner, when bananas foster is available for dessert, it’s a must. So is caramel cake.

Just because I have used the words elegant and worldly to describe the food at Juniper, do not think it is hifalutin. Yes, there is a real chef in the kitchen, no doubt about that; but the experience of coming here is an easy-going one, especially at lunch, when an inviting sandwich menu can get you well fed for under $10. (Dinner, served Thursday through Saturday, is at least twice that, not including wine; and the tables are covered with cloths.) The staff is casual-hospitable, the room tone is that of a town café. Expect to see some dressy folks at dinner and after church at Sunday brunch, but for most of us devotees, it’s come-as-you-are.

What to Eat
Juniper, Caramel Cake
Caramel Cake
Must-Try
Plenty of buttery frosting on tender caramel cake
Juniper, Cassoulet
Cassoulet
Must-Try
Cassoulet is a frequent entrée at the Sunday brunch buffet.
Juniper, Ham & Bean Soup
Ham & Bean Soup
Must-Try
Is it cumin that gives ham & bean soup extra kick?
Juniper, Italian Wedding Cake
Italian Wedding Cake
Must-Try
Italian cream cake, so silky-smooth and coconut-sweet, is lathered in nutty cream cheese frosting.
Juniper, Shrimp & Grits
Shrimp & Grits
Must-Try
Peerless Adluh grits with snappy shrimp bathed in buttery, spicy sauce
Juniper, Corn Chowder
Corn Chowder
Must-Try
Posh-perfect corn chowder, a Juniper signature dish
Juniper, Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie
Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie
Must-Try
Pecan pie is sweetened with maple syrup & spiked with bourbon.
Juniper, French Onion Soup
French Onion Soup
Must-Try
Dark, herby, French onion soup
Juniper, Meat Loaf
Meat Loaf
Must-Try
Meat loaf & mashed potatoes with herbed gravy
Juniper, Steak
Steak
Must-Try
Pan-seared steak from nearby Yon Farms
Juniper, Spiced Shrimp & Grits
Spiced Shrimp & Grits
Must-Try
Powerhouse trio: spiced shrimp, Adluh grits, flash-fried collards
Juniper, Chicken & Waffles
Chicken & Waffles
Must-Try
Crisp-crusted fried chicken & cornbread waffles with bitter greens
Juniper, BBQ Salmon
BBQ Salmon
Must-Try
BBQ glazed salmon, Adluh grits, flash-fried collards
Juniper, Potato-Pimento Cheese Soup
Potato-Pimento Cheese Soup
Must-Try
Cream-rich potato & pimento cheese soup
Juniper, Butternut Squash, Sage & Bacon Sautee
Butternut Squash, Sage & Bacon Sautee
Must-Try
Butternut squash & bacon sauteed with sage and penne pasta
Juniper, Chocolate-Frosted Yellow Cake
Chocolate-Frosted Yellow Cake
Must-Try
Moist yellow cake, iced with profound chocolate frosting
Juniper, House Salad
House Salad
Must-Try
Got bacon? You will if you have a house salad, dressed with blue cheese vinaigrette.
Juniper, Bananas Foster
Bananas Foster
Must-Try
Bananas Foster: hot fruit, cool ice cream, butter, brown sugar & rum.
Juniper, Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried Green Tomatoes
Must-Try
Fruit-sweet fried green tomatoes with green goddess dressing & pimento cheese
Juniper, Sauteed Asparagus
Sauteed Asparagus
Must-Try
Simply sauteed is the only way to go in Spring asparagus season
Juniper, Chocolate Pudding Cake
Chocolate Pudding Cake
Chocolate pudding cake is relentlessly chocolaty.
Juniper, Panzanella Salad
Panzanella Salad
Saturday night amuse bouche: mini panzanella salad
Juniper, Crab Cakes
Crab Cakes
Crab cakes & Adluh grits, topped with sweet tomato coulis and squash
Juniper, Cuban Sandwich
Cuban Sandwich
Juniper's Cuban is no ordinary lunchtime sandwich.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday11am - 2pm
Monday11am - 2:30pm
Tuesday11am - 2:30pm
WednesdayCLOSED
Thursday6pm - 9pm
Friday6pm - 9pm
Saturday6pm - 9pm
Information
Price
$$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
Yes
Outdoor Seating
No
Website

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