Juniper’s Restaurant: Picturesque Vermont Inn Features Paired Down Local Menu| 01.04.19
The Downside: Higher Price Point; Parking Can Be Tight if the Inn is Busy
Mountain Rating: 7.7/10
In December we tried out the new and improved Juniper’s Restaurant. Now, this restaurant has been on our radar for many years as we really love the view and outdoor seating in the summer time. But, over their fall break (the restaurant shuts down from the end of foliage until just after Thanksgiving) they changed their menu!
The addition of an outdoor beer garden, last summer’s renovation that added the Spokeasy Lounge – a bar area perfect for the bike traffic that passes by, a face-lift to the main dining areas, and now the revised menu. It was nice to see some new menu options. I was impressed at the direction the restaurant has taken. New entrees focus on satisfying, stick to your ribs dishes full of flavor – like winter schnitzel, coffee-maple pork loin, butternut squash risotto, a warm harvest bowl, and mac and cheese. In addition to the main menu, their burgers and unique appetizers (like the Brussels sprout salad) provide plenty of variety while still including unique dishes and flavors for the area.
Dinner At Juniper’s Restaurant
We started our meal off with our standard cocktails. I was excited to see a maple whiskey cocktail made with a local maple syrup but the roads weren’t the greatest that night, so I stuck to one cocktail. For an appetizer we ordered the drunken mussels.
Over the years, we have always enjoyed the mussels at Junipers, swimming in a garlic butter, white wine sauce with onions. This time, the broth included beer in place of wine, plenty of lemon and garlic and, of course, butter.
The beer changed the flavor profile, creating a deeper more robust flavor compared to the wine based broth. The portion size was perfect for an appetizer, and it had great flavor. The price was a little high for the portion size but was still within range of what other area restaurants are charging for a similar quality dish.
My favorite part of the mussel dish is eating the broth with warm bread. And I wasn’t disappointed! The dish was served with a few pieces of bread and our server brought rolls to the table.
For dinner, I tried the Alfredo with shrimp, my husband tried the winter schnitzel, and our son ordered the Juniper Burger. We’ll start with the burger.
Piled high with veggies and topped with maple-glazed bacon, this beef patty, made with meat raised right here in Vermont, was mouth watering. To further add to the flavor profile, the patty sat on a bed of caramelized onions. A pile of fries finished off this plate. It looked like a ton of food, but was no match for a teenager. The burger was slightly overcooked, being medium-well instead of medium, and I prefer more seasoning, but overall it was a delicious burger and would have been more than enough food for me.
My husband ordered the winter schnitzel. This dish was the highlight of the evening. Served with an apple-cranberry relish the texture of a light apple sauce, this dish offered a surprising combination of flavors. Each bite started with a crunch, as a schnitzel should, immediately followed by the tart sweetness of cranberry which paired perfectly with the more mild flavored pork. For sides this dish was served with a seasonal vegetable, on this night it happened to be carrots and parsnips tossed in a maple glaze, and a side of flavorful mashed potatoes with plenty of garlic. The root vegetables with the maple added another layer to the dish and went well with the cranberry sauce. I have to admit, I was a little jealous I didn’t order it as my entrée.
Instead, I had to give the Alfredo a try. I ordered mine with shrimp, but the menu offers this dish with scallops, chicken, or without a protein. I was impressed with the thickness of the sauce. Many restaurants have either a very traditional, thick Parmesan based sauce, or something more milk based that is thin – more akin to a jarred Alfredo sauce. Juniper’s new Alfredo is somewhere in between, leaning toward the thicker side of the spectrum, but with enough cream to keep it a bit lighter. The broccoli in the dish was cut to bite sized pieces – a fact I greatly appreciated. And they were still crunchy, giving a burst of fresh veggie flavor to a heavy pasta dish. Well cooked shrimp rounded off the entrée.
Being that we had our teenager with us, we went ahead and tried some dessert. We split a maple crème brule, and it took all three of us to finish off the cookie sundae my son ordered. Both were delicious, and I sincerely suggest trying the sundae – it was fun to eat and I can see this being a nice treat on a summer’s day.
We dined at Juniper’s Restaurant soon after they had reopened, catching them with brand new employees and a new menu. Our initial wait was a little on the longer side. But when we were seated there were a number of tables just finishing up. Based on our previous experiences at the restaurant, this wait was an anomaly. Our food tasted fantastic and for the first week of a new menu, I think everything came out well. Over all we had a lovely experience.
Juniper’s at the Wildflower Inn
The location, the views, and the atmosphere of this Lyndonville, VT restaurant are really what set it apart. The expansive views of rolling hills, fields, and forest are all visible from most of the dining areas. In the fall, the color is spectacular. In the winter, all of that white looks inviting and magical, and in the summer and spring you’ll lose yourself in the green expanse dotted with the colors of wildflowers. It is a breathtaking view.
On the inside, the restaurant itself is inviting. Being situated in an old farmhouse, the inn has kept that feel throughout. When you come into the building, it is like coming into a home, with an inviting foyer, and a sitting room off to your right, complete with a wood stove. Through the sitting room is the Spokeasy Lounge. Filled with rustic wood tones, offset by tables made from bike spokes, it is a comfortable blend of modern and traditional. Owner, Jim O’Reilly told me over the summer that the thought behind the lounge was to make it a comfortable place for local mountain bikers to come eat. The Kingdom Trails network passes through the Inn’s property, but many of the bikers are hesitant to come into the restaurant in their gear. This way they can park their bikes, come into the lounge through the beer garden, and feel right at home.
To the left of the entry way is the dining room. This room speaks to the Inn’s past as a residence. Still looking very much like a living/dining room in a home, with the addition of a few extra tables, this room is perfect for families and large groups.
On the back side of the dining room is an enclosed, 4 season porch. This is my favorite place to dine here. Because of the wall of windows, the view is the focal point during the day, no matter the season. And at night, the small space is well lit, providing a bright and cheerful place to eat. The tables are a bit smaller here, but it is worth the trade.
Dining at Juniper’s has always been a treat, and this visit was no different. There are many activities nearby, making Juniper’s at the Wildflower Inn a perfect stop while you are out enjoying your next Northeast Kingdom Adventure.
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