Last Saturday night…a splurge with dinner at Julian. Took some good friends out for dinner, no kids!, and had a great evening. Yes, it was expensive for my usual ‘let’s go out to eat’ budget but as I said, it was a splurge.
Despite the nasty weather, at 7pm the place was almost full–in the bar and dining room. It’s fine to wear jeans–our waiter did. I was expecting a more polished appearance (at least nice jeans that fit well?) , but he did a good job with service. Reading the menu for me was a challenge–had my contact lenses in but the print was small and there wasn’t much light at our table. I like to see the menu–and my food. To start, I had the spinach salad which was nicely dressed (not soggy with dressing at all) and sprinkled with some sort of fancy whole almonds. The portion was ample. I suppose the fancier restaurants have stopped serving bread with a salad — I would have enjoyed a whole grain slice to go along with the spinach.
My entree was the pork shoulder and my husband ordered the braised beef. When both were served, the appearance took us by surprise–it was a dense square piece of meat, about the size of a larger brownie. When Chef Tio came by, she explained how the meat is slow cooked for eight hours, the fat is pulled out and the rest of the meat is compacted into the serving squares. Along with the sweet potatoes and one melted marshmallow, I ate 1/2 of the meat (saving room for dessert). Hubby finished his plate, which came with a square of scalloped potatoes and brussel sprouts. Friends ordered the duck cassolet and the fish tacos–no complaints.
On to dessert! I had heard about the chocolate pudding and ginger donut–that’s what I ordered. The waiter said all desserts were under 500 calories–mine was surely 499. The pudding was rich and smooth; the donut tasted like a ‘baked’ donut I make at home–nothing special but tasty. Coffee is served in a french press.
Once the room filled up, it was quite noisy. We could converse speaking louder than normal. This would be annoying after a while. We didn’t feel rushed at all, and it’s a nice touch to have the Chef come out and check on every table. Someone else came by the table as well–he did not identify himself and didn’t look like a manager–untucked shirt, jeans,–still, he asked how our meal was.
As for pricing…just the salad and entree came to $30. Add in a drink and dessert with coffee–that’s a $100 meal for two people. Not unreasonable for a place like Julian (or Carmen’s Cafe, Axious, Avenues Bistro) but just high enough that for me, this is a special occasion restaurant. Julian recently opened for lunch–will try that sometime with a client. Once the weather gets warm enough, the patio will be the spot for drinks and people watching. I hope Julian does well–you can tell Celine has put her heart and soul into the place. Support local businesses and try Julian!