Juniper does Cascadian the Vancouver way

By Hunter Moyes
Shaun Layton and his team are bringing a familiar but new drinking experience to Chinatown. Photo: Shaun Layton, retrieved from Juniper Twitter page.

Shaun Layton and his team are bringing a familiar but new drinking experience to Chinatown.
Photo: Shaun Layton, retrieved from Juniper Twitter page.

VANCOUVER — In the industry, there are whispers of a new spot opening up in Chinatown — a place where chefs, servers, and barkeeps alike will flock to once it opens in the first week of December. Juniper is an experience in waiting, conjured up by the savoir-faire of revered Vancouver beverage director Shaun Layton.

2015 has witnessed the upward propagation of an organically grown bridge of gastronomic options, from Gastown, through the DTES, up Main Street, and into the height of Mt. Pleasant. At 185 Keefer, Juniper will surely become a cornerstone destination on this trail, an attractive Cascadian neighbour to long-triumphing Bao Bei.

I caught up with Layton this month to get a clearer picture of it as the opening approaches. No time was wasted on all of the details that are standard to articles like this: 110 seats or so, open from 4 to midnight. We got to the point. So what’s the idea?

Cascadian refers to the life in the Pacific Northwest, including but not limited to the bounty of the mountainous expanses from Alaska to California. Worried about being “pigeon holed” into some precognition of popular Cascadia satire, Layton explained that the operation is to take on the ambitiously dynamic role. Juniper will endeavour to exemplify what that can mean in Vancouver. His modus operandi will see to it that the Cascadian concept is well-dressed, unpretentious, and well-presented. “To present everything, we’ve sourced together but apart, allowing for a guest-directed experience with our help in sourcing,” Layton explains. “We see it as a teaching tool [of the Cascadian lifestyle].”

The header in their media evening invitation said it all to me, personally. “From our rocky shores to our fragrant rainforests to our arid deserts, Juniper has sought out the best in homegrown produce, products, and talent and we’re justifiably excited to share the fruits of our labours with you.”

Juniper has everything from herb-infusions, to smoking or torching, to the calculated nature of ice stewardship, to the proper use of various fermentation disciplines, to the use of immersion circulators in the back and front of house — you’re right not to know what exactly to expect. But come to Juniper with a thirst, an appetite, and an earnest desire to learn.

Juniper is located at 185 Keefer Street and opens on December 3rd.

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