Kevin Sbraga’s Juniper Commons Will Be A 1980’s Theme Restaurant


sbraga-at-southstreet-lofts

No, seriously. I mean, I wouldn’t believe me either, but this is straight from the man himself (via his PR team, of course):

“When you talk about the eighties, everyone focuses on the pop culture, not the food or drinks. While many chefs have forgone revisiting this decade, I’m excited to reinvent dishes that have been deemed passé, into quality dishes that guests will relate to today.”

See? 19-friggin’-80’s theme restaurant! Which is so totally and completely insane, that I already love it and want to go there for lunch right now–despite the fact that Kevin Sbraga‘s new Juniper Commons isn’t scheduled to open until sometime late this fall.

juniper-commons-rendering-940

And according to press descriptions, it gets even better. “Juniper Commons brings the spirit of the decade to life with quintessential American dishes, reimagined “classic” cocktails, with Lionel Richie and Chicago on the playlist.”

There’s gonna be a raw bar (at which, one can only hope, Sbraga will have positioned a coterie of hard-eyed Patrick Bateman clones with slicked-back hair and those pinstriped contrast-collar shirts) and a gin program (dirty martinis, natch). Sbraga and his guys will be knocking out seafood towers and shrimp cocktails, French bread pizza for the kids, stuffed flounder, beef burgundy and cheesecake.

What’s that? You want a menu sample? Well I’ve got one:

Smoked Fish Platter
with salmon, whitefish terrine, bluefish, lentil salad, and housemade black bread

Fries with Eyes

beef fat fries with Cherry Pepper Aioli, Pecorino

Caesar Salad

prepared tableside with housemade croutons and dressing

Eggplant Parmesan
rings of panko-crusted eggplant topped with marinara sauce, locatelli, and parsley

Rotisserie Chicken
served with Marsala sauce and herb bouquet

Wood Roasted Prime Rib
cooked on the rotisserie and served with ox tail au jus and roasted garlic

There are a whole bunch of insider-y cook jokes in that list (the tableside Caesar, the parsley on the eggplant parm and the herb bouquet), all making reference to the terrible things that American chefs did to food back before any of us knew any better. And if Sbraga keeps true to form here, I’m also hoping to see some quiche, the total misuse of lemongrass in one dish, lots of raspberry vinaigrette, maybe a cedar plank salmon or something served “blackened” with a couple wine coolers on the side.

Oh, wait. He already thought of that. Again, from the announcement:

“Drawing inspiration from iconic brands such as Bartles & Jaymes, Juniper Commons is macerating fresh fruit with wine, clarifying the mixture, and adding bubbles to create a selection of unique wine coolers.”

Honestly, the possibilities for this kind of thing are mind-boggling. And the fact that Sbraga seems truly committed to this gag wacky scheme brilliant remaking of one of the darkest decades in American gastronomy just makes me like the guy even more. That’s some hardcore crazy right there. And I respect crazy almost as much as I do talent when it comes to the food world. Nice to know Sbraga’s got both.

As mentioned above, Juniper Commons is looking at a “late fall” opening at 521 South Broad. It’ll seat 140, be open 7 nights a week to start, with plans for adding lunch and brunch services.

I, for one, can not wait.

Juniper Commons [f8b8z]