Juniper Cafe, a delicious addition to Strathearn
Long-time friends Peggy Adams and Kenny Dario opened the restaurant last month
A new restaurant in the Strathearn neighbourhood is the city's newest hidden gem, according to Edmonton AM food reviewer Twyla Campbell.
The Juniper Cafe & Bistro, tucked away inside a strip mall at 9514 87th St., opened last month, taking a space once occupied by what Campbell described as a "run-down, dive bar, full of bad news."
Campbell says the restaurant has transformed a once neglected nook of the neighbourhood into a thriving business. Despite it's 'dingy' past, she says everything about the restaurant is appetizing, and locals are flocking to the eatery in droves.
"It's good, fresh food made from scratch," said Campbell.
"The food is nothing complicated, but these people are having fun. They were really meant for this kind of business."
Co-owners Peggy Adams and Kenny Dario were told by so many of their friends that they should open a restaurant, they finally decided to give the business a chance.
"He was in construction, and she managed a coffee chain for about 17 years, and they were looking for something to do to fulfil their passion, which was food."
It's a casual order-at-the-counter eatery suited for a grab-and-go meal, or quick brunch. In the evening, it's mainly small plates intended for sharing. And diners can quench their thirst with organic coffee, tea, craft beer, a glass of wine or a gin cocktail.
The cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Campbell was so head-over-heels after her first taste she went back for all three.
With a feast of fresh pastries, steaming waffles and buttery cakes to choose from, Campbell recommends a latte and their blackberry rosemary scone for breakfast.
The hoisin duck — with slices of rare duck breast, house-made hoisin sauce and a side of shaved cucumber salad — was Campbell's favourite dinner item. If you have a hankering for lunch, be sure to try the hand-held bennie.
"It is a handful, and it is messy, but all around a winning sandwich.
Campbell's only complaint. Not enough food.
"There's nothing but the sandwich on the plate, so if you're hungry, you better order soup or salad."
Despite its current success, Campbell says the location comes with an expiry date. The Juniper will only have two to three years at its current location before the building is demolished to make way for construction of the Valley Line LRT.
You can hear Campbell's reviews on Edmonton AM every second Friday. You can also see more of her reviews on her blog, Weird Wild and Wonderful, and can follow her on Twitter at @wanderwoman10.