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Juliette Kitchen and Bar: A New Tradition

Former Filling Station owners John Hughes and Hyun-Sook (Juliette) Chung take over where Pascal Olhats left off

Not long after Pascal Olhats closed his 24-year-old flagship restaurant, Tradition, news came that another Frenchman, Christophe Eme of LA's Ortolan, was eyeing the space. That wasn't to be. Instead, the Newport Beach spot was inherited by husband-and-wife team John Hughes and Hyun-Sook (Juliette) Chung, who previously owned the Filling Station in Orange.

Their new restaurant, Juliette Kitchen and Bar, is different from Olhats' in every way. Gone are the stuffy white-linen tables and claustrophobic room dividers; everything has been stripped to the foundation and bare wood. The chairs are unvarnished and the seats made of wicker. The whole space now feels breezy and loose. If dining at Tradition felt as though you were wearing an overstarched suit, eating at Juliette Kitchen is the equivalent of putting on an unbuttoned beach shirt. Some of the customers seemed to follow that feeling; I saw a few blondes walking in wearing tank tops that might as well be swimsuits. If Juliette Kitchen weren't on a one-way street overlooking the toll road in the not-so-fun business end of Newport Beach, you'd think you were close to someplace sandy.

Juliette Chung, whom our own Shuji Sakai called the "one-woman bake shop" responsible for the county's best pumpkin pies, is effectively retired from the kitchen. She's still a presence at the new restaurant, but she has assumed the role of conductor instead of pit musician. The Chungs have hired Daniel Hyatt from Signal Hill's Delius (another husband-and-wife-fronted restaurant) as executive chef, and their pastry-chef daughter, Erica Choi, handles the desserts. To describe the food, I'm tempted to use the now-trite terms "farm-to-table" and "modern European with Asian influences," but I think I'll dub it nontraditional (pun intended).

Crudo is our credo
LP Hastings
Crudo is our credo
LP Hastings
LP Hastings
LP Hastings

Location Info

Map

Juliette Kitchen & Bar

1000 Bristol St N, Ste. 11
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Newport Beach

Details

Juliette Kitchen and Bar, www.juliettenb.com. Open Mon., 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Tues.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Dinner for two, $40-$60, food only. Full bar.

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Take the crudo, which is unlike any crudo or, in fact, any dish I've seen before. There's a scoop of slowly melting jalapeño-mango sorbet plopped on top. The frozen, sugary-sweet confection rests on a nest of daikon radish while a few micro shiso leafs play as a garnish. Underneath this bundle of veggies and barely peeking through is the fish, steak-thick slices of tuna arranged to resemble petals and submerged in a tomato dashi broth. Is it a crudo, or is it a soup? A salad, or dessert? I'm not sure. It was, however, refreshingly brisk, and it sent shivers up my spine just as the last great Mexican cocktail I had, the closest thing it resembled.

What you really need to know is you should order the majority of your meal—if not the entire thing—from the same list that has the crudo. These are small plates you'll want to share with those at your table. The farro risotto—a dish that's all about how the chewy micro beads of grain seem to playfully slip in and out from between your teeth—is close to perfect. But you need to eat it in small doses, as it's boldly cheesy, the richness barely being grounded by the stirred-in squash blossoms, Swiss chard and trumpet mushrooms.

The pig cheeks, served in a searing cast-iron pan with charred peaches, is pork for those who've explored every other part of the hog. Almost perfectly aerodynamic in shape and resembling Nerf footballs, they're shellacked in glaze; tear one apart with a fork, and there's a slight bit of resistance. The meat is tightly wound, firm at first, but finally surrendering into shreds pinker than pastrami but tasting almost as sweet as barbecue baby backs. Also ask for the smoked ocean trout salad—you'll not have a sharper, more complex plate of food involving arugula than this. The nose-tickling smokiness of the flaked fish, the cloying bent of the stewed cherries and tartness of pickled onions seem initially at odds with one another, but they somehow end up in harmony.

If I haven't spoken of Juliette Kitchen's main entrée plates much, it's because you probably needn't venture there. A roasted jidori chicken was dry and one-note, served with potatoes, turnips and a brown sauce that may just be here one season too early. And the fish stew, the most expensive item on the menu, seems a blander version of the bouillabaisse that might have been served in this very spot two years ago by Olhats.

Order instead another round of the small plate that pairs the chewy nubs of beer-braised octopus with the cotton-soft pillows of a well-done gnocchi, the two textures playing against each other. It's embedded with celery and olives in a slow-moving, thick paste of intriguing origin and tang—a dish that might prove a new tradition here—until, that is, Mrs. Chung decides to bake her pumpkin pies again.

 

This review appeared in print as "A New Tradition: Former Filling Station owners take over where Pascal Olhats left off with Juliette Kitchen."

 
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2 comments
christoofat
christoofat

My wife & I ate here last night, as a sort of belated birthday dinner for her. Everything we ordered (all small plates) was wonderful. Their wine program is also excellent, we both found several interesting wines from lesser known wineries, and the final act of the caramel pot de creme topped off a superb meal.

Too bad the whole evening was completely spoiled by the insane noise level inside the restaurant.

I could see my wife's face become visibly tighter & forlorn looking as the evening wore on , to the point that I was wishing that the meal could end faster than it did.They should have a bowl of ear protection up front. I feel sorry for the waitstaff who have to work in that environment every night. I don't think we'll be back, which is a pure shame, as everything else (including the wonderful Israel, our server) was so damn good.

tbplayer1
tbplayer1

I was brought here by a link about Kobayashi eating tacos.

 
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