Where to go: Juniper on Main
Address: 110 E. Main St., Carmel
What to get: Charleston-style shrimp and grits
Price: $17 or $23, depending on size.
Anna’s take: After visiting Juniper on Main for a food review, it is now my favorite restaurant. Like, top restaurant for me, ever. The little building is on Carmel’s charming Main Street, and the inside is adorable and quaint. The outdoor seating, with the twinkle lights and a soft breeze, makes you feel like you’re on vacation, and the coastal fare enhances the feeling. I sampled several items, all of which blew me away. To start, I tried a sampler platter of the appetizers (which is not on the menu but was made just for me). I tried the fried green tomatoes, which were deliciously crisp on the outside and served with a side of lemon aioli, spiced green tomato jam (reminded me of apple butter) and a bed of arugula. Typically, four to five tomatoes are served per order for $11. I also tried the cornbread basket, which is a warm portion of cornbread served with a delicious sweet butter and a savory pimento cheese spread. Four hunks of cornbread are served per order for $8.50. The Low Country Crab Cakes were my favorite appetizer. They are two crab cakes the size of tennis balls with a side of lemon aioli and arugula for $16. The flight of deviled eggs is very fun – each egg is different and chef’s choice. The two I tried had smoked sausage and a Coca-Cola barbecue on one and salmon and dill on the other. Five are usually served per order for $10.
For the main course, the Forsyth fig salad ($16) was bright, tart and sweet with a sweet tea-brined chicken, goat cheese and honey fritters, and an array of fruit and nuts with a side of house-made rosemary fig balsamic dressing. The Charleston-style shrimp and grits ($17 for the lunch portion, $23 for the dinner portion) was a rich bowl full of jumbo shrimp, smoked sausage, caramelized onions and peppers atop a mound of heirloom cheese grits and served in a velvety cream sherry sauce topped with a fried egg. Another favorite main course was the grilled salmon with chili lime butter ($23), served atop a bed of coconut rice with citrus black beans, sweet plantains, asparagus, pickled red onion and cilantro. To top it off, I had a slice of the hummingbird cake, which I urge you to order, it was so good, and a key lime tart with layers of sponge cake, which was bright and refreshing.
Since I write this column every week, I rarely ask for carryout boxes to take leftovers home, but you better believe I asked this time. I was incredibly impressed, to the point that I called my mom as I left the restaurant and told her that we would have to return together and pretend we were on a cruise while dining there.