Juliette Kitchen & Bar

I’m always excited to find good eats in Orange County.  Non chain deliciousness can be hard to come by, so Juliette Kitchen really hit the spot.  The restaurant is in the neighboring strip mall of Nana San, so if the wait there is too long and you can switch epicurean gears from Japanese/sushi to New American/comfort food then keep this place in mind.  Fishing Zebra Man and I treated Rock Dweller and her man, Can’t Hang, to their birthday dinner here.
Not sure if I’m just getting old, or work is getting too stressful sometimes, but I really look forward to a nice relaxing drink after one of those rough days.  We all have them.  Don’t lie to yourself.  I’m not an alcoholic or anything, but how can this not put a smile on your face?  Moscow mules might be my new favorite go-to drink.  I’m actually wouldn’t complain if this drink is made on the light side.  I enjoy the simplicity of a fizzy ginger beer served in a shiny cold cup.  If someone knows where I can find me a set of cups like this, let me know!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts fried pork belly, shallots, parsley, pomegranate molasses gastrique

Fishing Zebra Man kept bemoaning the overdoneness of these veggies.  Granted they were a tad over, I still found them to be tasty.  Maybe they were better the first time I had them, but the char, sweet, sour, salty flavors still came together nicely.

 

Scallops butternut squash, pancetta, dried sweet onion, parsnip puree, black garlic gastrique

Look at that caramelization!  The sweet butternut squash and parsnip puree balanced out the oceanic saltiness inherent in these scallops.

Farro Risotto butternut squash, trumpet mushroom, beet greens, pecorino, aged sherry vinegar

I don’t really like strange grains, like basically anything found in a wild rice mixture.  So this was a unique take on risotto which I really liked.  It was pretty cheesy, which I took an unusual liking to as well.  Can’t Hang wasn’t the number one fan here, but everyone else enjoyed the well textured grains tempered by the creaminess and slightly sharp bite of cheese.

Potato Gnocchi duck confit, brussels sprouts, shimeji mushrooms, foie gras compound butter, pickled currants, frisee, micro celery 

It’s not too often you find pan fried gnocchi like this.  I really like how they prepare it here.  The gnocchi are soft and chewy with just a bit more bite from the pan fried exteriors.  You should definitely get this one.

Hanger Steak cauliflower, dried tomatoes, smoked paprika, pine nuts, roasted chili-garlic compote, red wine

Can’t Hang and Rock Dweller aren’t too adventurous when it came to the proteins.  They vetoed the duck and the lamb, so we were left with beef and pork.  The hanger steak was certainly everyone’s favorite.  The meat was a perfect medium rare and the accoutrements and flavor profiles were really able to stand up to the hearty protein.

Kurobuta Pork Shank potato confit, baby turnips, leeks, pickled mustard seed, rosemary braising jus

This is one of their signature dishes.  Anything falling off the bone automatically wins over most people, myself included.  I think the pickled mustard seed and baby turnips are ingredients you don’t find often in many dishes.  So the dish was both unique in that way but also really tasty.  The jus was hearty while the mustard seeds zinged it up a notch.

Pork Cheeks charred spring garlic, fava beans, pickled ramps, pine nuts, radish, chili-mint gastrique

Fishing Zebra Man was still hungry so he had to throw in a last minute order.  The pork cheeks are another popular item at Juliette Kitchen.  I can see why.  The cheeks are soo tender, and complemented nicely by the crunch of pine nuts and pickled ramps.

Desserts

My bad for not snapping a picture of the dessert menu.  This was some sort of chocolate custard/pot de creme.  I remember ordering it last time and not liking it much because there was some orange liquer used to flavor it.  I’m not sure why people think orange and chocolate go well together.  They DO NOT.  We actually wanted the salted caramel pot de creme which was sold out.  Execution wise, this did a fine job.  Everything jiggled when it was supposed to and had bite when it needed it.

Olive Oil Cake

This was a more interesting and tasty dessert.  Rock Dweller seemed to appreciate the subtle olive oil taste, but I’ve had stronger tasting desserts.  If you didn’t pay attention you probably wouldn’t know there was olive oil here.  The peaches made the dish seasonal, while the bit of ice cream made it traditional.  You can never go wrong with a la mode!

Overall, Juliette Kitchen did not disappoint.  I think the only misstep might have been the slightly overcooked brussels sprouts.  Everything else was well executed, with interesting flavor combinations and complementary ingredients and textures.  Despite the strip mall location, the ambience is nice.  There are some high top seats which adds a casual vibe, like a place to stop and get drinks after work or some wine with your girlfriends.  Obviously, the place makes for a good birthday dinner since I also celebrated my birthday here a couple months back.  I am certainly coming back here soon!
10 – You NEED to eat here
9 – Awesome! 

8 – Very good

7 – Good

6 – OK

5 – Average

4 – Not bad

3 – Not good
2 – Terrible

1 – Do NOT go here

 

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