Monday, March 25, 2013

TULSA, OK: Juniper Restaurant

A delightful find during a recent trip to Tulsa was Juniper Restaurant and Martini Lounge, a relatively new fine-dining restaurant in the city’s Blue Dome District.

Entrance to Juniper Restaurant and Martini Lounge
Several colleagues and I popped into this 60-seat establishment for dinner during a trip to our company’s headquarters in Tulsa. Even though it was a Tuesday evening, the place was well populated with people apparently having a good time and enjoying what, for all indications, appeared to be a good meal.
Because our party of five showed up sans reservation, staff was not able to show us to a table immediately but suggested cocktails and nibbles in the bar while we waited. It was to be the harbinger of a wonderful evening ahead.
Juniper has several local and regional beers available, as well as a list of craft cocktails to augment the usual offerings. The others at our table enjoyed local beers and wine while I indulged in a Bombay Sapphire martini with bleu cheese olives as we perused the appetizer menu.
Pork Belly
We selected seasonal mushroom fritto and braised pork belly to nosh while we waited.  I tucked into the mushrooms, which were delicious, but was a bit more hesitant about the belly, which I’d ordered elsewhere and found far too fatty for my liking. Because my previous experience had taken place at a restaurant in Vancouver, B.C., that does everything well, I had concluded that belly was just not something that tickled my taste buds.
Juniper’s offering was completely different. More meaty and less fatty than my previous experience, it was cooked to a point where the skin was delightfully crispy but the meat inside still juicy and tender. Very nicely done indeed.
After just a brief wait, we were ushered to our table and presented with menus featuring weekly specials and house offerings.
I chose the Big Jamoke Porter rib-eye from the menu of weekly specials. It was served with candied onions, a bleu cheese crust, and demi-glace made from Marshall Big Jamoke Porter, a beer made locally by the Marshall Brewing Company.
Big Jamoke Porter Rib-eye
Because I can be a smart ass, I told my server I wanted my steak cooked “So a good vet could still save it.” As requested, it came quite rare, but tender and tasty – the marks of good quality beef. It came with sides of gnudi (a type of gnocchi made from ricotta cheese and flour), peas, and carrots.
A colleague who ordered his steak cooked a bit more thoroughly concurred that it was a delicious cut of cow. I’m not sure either of us finished our order.
Dessert was offered, but who had room? Not one among the five of us.
Service was excellent, with servers who knew their menu, could describe the dishes on offer, and weren’t shy about making recommendations. When I worked in the industry, we tasted every dish on the menu so we could give our honest opinion, and it appears that Juniper does the same. Certainly, tastes vary, but a server who can honestly say the fish en papillote is good but the beef is beyond compare is what helps differentiate a good restaurant from a great one.
Given the attentive service, excellent food, upscale yet relaxed atmosphere, and reasonable prices, I have already recommended Juniper to several people, and recommend it to anyone visiting Tulsa and in search of more than merely a meal. Juniper did not disappoint.

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Photos courtesy Juniper Restaurant and Martini Lounge
Click on photos to view larger size

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