When John Hughes and Hyun-Sook (Juliette) Chung, the husband-and-wife original owners of Orange's Filling Station sold their restaurant in 2010, we broke the news with a heavy heart. Chung, the woman behind the best pies in Orange County had burned out from being a one-woman bake shop. But we just got word that they've taken over the former Traditions by Pascal space in Newport Beach, and will open Juliette Kitchen & Bar next Friday.
The concept departs from the Filling Station's diner / American comfort food, and takes a more adventurous, au courant heading into a farm-to-table, modern American menu under Executive Chef Daniel Hyatt's leadership. Hughes says, "it's hard to classify the food. It's a mix of modern European with Asian influences. There's a much lighter focus, without a lot of the heavy sauces. It's casual fine dining. The produce will come from local farmers' markets, with as much organic produce as possible."
Small-plate menus are the thing right now in casual fine dining, and the menu will have twice as many small plates as larger entrees. Dinnertime prices for small plates will range from $9 to $15, larger entrees run from $21 - $28. Breakfast lunch and dinner will be available every day except on Sunday which will be brunch-only. They're one of the rare OC outlets for organic Blue Bottle coffee from the famed San Francisco microroaster.
What about the bar part of the restaurant's name? They have a full bar serving adventurous signature cocktails concocted by Bar Manager Kristin Markley. Her Wooded Peach consists of rye, mesquite-smoked peaches and sugar. Smoked Pepper contains Tequila Ocho Reposado, roasted sweet pepper, serrano chilii, Licor 43, strawberry, cucumber and lime.
Eight beer taps will see a constantly-rotating selection, and Hughes promises that like the food menu, locally-sourced beers will work into the mix. Their adjoining wine shop will sell mostly small-label bottles, which you can enjoy with your meal, with no corkage. Paul Hobbs pinot noir and Beau Vignet cabernet are two wines Hughes name-dropped. Hughes says their prices will be on par with other wine retailers instead of the typical 300% markup above retail that restaurants charge.
Lastly - the phenomenal Filling Station pumpkin pie? Hughes says their daughter Erica Choi is the pastry chef, and her offerings will be more sophisticated than their previous, down-home restaurant's. Every component of every dessert will be made in-house. But for nostalgia's sake, Hughes is asking Choi to bring back the pumpkin pie if only so he can have it for himself. Even if it's a limited-time Thanksgiving-only offering, I'll be first in line when the pie orders open for the holidays.
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Juliette Kitchen & Bar. 1000 Bristol St. North, Newport Beach. (949) 725-5854 www.juliettenb.com