Juni (12 E 31st St, New York, NY, 212-995-8599, JuniNYC.com) jumps into a fresh-as-spring menu with Executive Chef Shaun Hergatt’s new dishes that pay homage to childhood favorites and lessons learned in culinary school before he became the Chef/Owner of Michelin-starred SHO Shaun Hergatt. I love this restaurant—read my review here as evidence! The new menu reflects Japanese kaiseki cuisine but also look for the beet tuile canapé and the rhapsodic riff on the Cherry Ripe chocolate-cherry candy bar Hergatt grew up eating in Australia (a foie gras bombe, anyone?). Black bass with English pea shoots, fennel, Crystal lettuce, and white balsamic sauce; a rabbit loin roulade with carrots presented six ways, radishes and green-peppercorn cream sauce; gnocchi with sea urchin and crab sauce; frogs' legs with fava beans and white balsamic gelee…ooh, such a caution!
Classic French cuisine has settled into downtown Manhattan as Jacques Ouari, entrepreneur and leader of the Jacques Restaurant Group, takes Jacques 1534 (20 Prince St, 212-966-8886, New York, NY, JGNYC.com) into its next decade with a new menu featuring approachable comfort food with cavorting cuisine and a carefully curated selection of handcrafted cocktails. Signature dishes initially found at the original Jacques Brasseries on the UES (mussels, steak frites, organic roasted chicken and warm chocolate soufflé) are still available at Jacques 1534, but there is also a new, mostly French-UK element at play (as well as other international influences); a little bit French bistro, a little bit English pub. Starters include black kale salad, and speck and Napa cabbage with tart-sweet dried cherries a drizzle of olive oil. Mains include Chatham cod fish ‘n’ chips; pan-seared Nile perch, served with basil couscous and harissa vinaigrette and braised short ribs with smoked-paprika mashed potatoes. Desserts include French classics such as crème brulèe and tartes aux pommes. Seasonally inspired cocktails incorporate fresh squeezed juices, house made purees and syrups with the hooch. Cheers to the Jacques 1534 crafted with Hendrick's Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, fresh mint and cucumber. A votre sante, mate!