By Anne DesBrisay
I began with dessert. No one was looking — it was just me, at my desk, alone with my Juniper Take Out Lunch, in a mood to be naughty.
Nestled in one of the three burrows of a black take out container, was a small square of very black chocolate cake. Its cocoa pedigree was instantly obvious, as was a measured bit of bitterness from the glug of Beau’s Lug Tread that moistened it. It glistened with a drizzle of a boozy buttery caramel sauce. Not much more than four forkfuls this wedge, but they were delightful, and easily the most memorable bit of my picnic lunch.
Then I ate the salad to cleanse the palate, before tucking into the sandwich. Pictured here still in its box, the guts were grand. I had chosen the pulled beef and cheese. It was moist, flavour-rich meat, pulled off the rib, roofed with melted mozzarella, sautéed mushrooms, some greens, all yummy — but the bun wasn’t well judged.
Made in house, apparently, and fresh to be sure, but too sweet and dry, like challah or brioche, less the butter. It would have suited PB&J perfectly well, or made some wicked French toast. But the beef cried out for a more macho bun, I thought. The salad was a small mound of arugula in excellent form, tossed with pickled onion, crushed macadamia nuts, candied peanuts, and furnished with a tart passion fruit vinaigrette.
It’s a great initiative, this call-in for pick-up lunch, and it’s priced right. Juniper’s had a history of coming up with clever ways of filling seats in its big, beautiful dining room (or, in this case, feeding us at our office seats). You may know about its Duelling Chefs Competitions: on traditionally quiet nights, it pits Juniper chefs against visiting adversaries, chefs from enemy restaurants, invites guests and the odd celebrity to taste and compare and vote, all the while generating money for local charities.
Cost: $12 for the lunch combo of sandwich, salad, and dessert. A la carte, $8 for the sandwich, $4 for the salad, $2 for the dessert.
Hours: The Take Out Lunch deal operates Tuesday to Friday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The menu is posted on the website. My beef sandwich was one of three options on offer that day. For groups of 10, with notice, they’ll deliver.
Juniper Kitchen & Wine Bar, 245 Richmond Rd., 613-728-0220, www.juniperdining.ca.