Bar Juillet: It’s a neighborhood restaurant with a family-style menu
After five years of flirting with dinner service, Corrie and Wesley Reimer have a bonafide bistro for their brand of cuisine.
The couple behind Ashland’s Hither Coffee & Goods opened Bar Juillet this month on the town’s Plaza. In occupying the former Ostras location, the Reimers essentially bookend downtown with their seasonally oriented sensibility that puts a premium on quality and freshness. They describe Bar Juillet as a neighborhood restaurant with a family-style menu that boasts a wine list of natural and low- to no-intervention wines.
But they’re not reinventing the wheel. A combined two decades of experience in award-winning restaurants on both coasts steered the couple’s style, and five years in Ashland confirmed what works in a nearly saturated restaurant scene. Diners who gravitated to Hither when it kept evening hours — an on-again, off-again prospect — will find familiar flavors while newcomers may find themselves enamored of Wesley Reimer’s signature palette of lemon, Calabrian chile and Grana Padano cheese.
Composing one-third of the menu, salads and vegetable dishes are Reimer’s calling card. Championing the region’s farmers, the Reimers upheld locally grown greens as a Hither staple and carry the ethic over to Bar Juillet. Often ambivalent to restaurant salads of dubious integrity, I told my salad-loving partner that this was the place to order one.
We debated the appeal of fennel and Pink Lady apple with kale — a green we eat often — and “the salad” ($20) for its local greens, avocado and edible flowers with nuts, seeds and balsamic — the last three being our standard salad accoutrements at home. So the “spring salad” ($14) with farmer cheese, snap peas, carrots, radishes and herbs won out.
An adornment of crispy leeks made the duck breast with shallot-date jam ($38) a no-brainer for my meal. My partner weighed two pasta dishes against the fried chicken ($18). Although our server vouched for the “capelletti brodo” ($18) as more of a signature dish to Bar Juillet, my partner wasn’t so inspired by its filling of caramelized onion and traditional presentation in broth, rather than sauce. Despite the fried chicken’s lack of skin or bones, it sounded more satisfying.
Broth we already anticipated with the steamed clams ($18), seasoned with miso and ginger, two of our favorite flavors. A side of fries with lemon aioli ($6) was the obvious accompaniment.
Easily selecting our cocktails, as well, my partner and I both gravitated to “sours” — pisco ($14) for him and whiskey ($13) for me. I expected the cocktail with vermouth and St. Germain that echoes the restaurant’s name might headline the list, but it was not among the beverages’ ranks.
The French word for “July,” I told my partner, is likely to be confused for “Juliet.” Indeed, the next day we heard Ashlanders referencing Shakespeare’s heroine as the bar’s namesake.
Corrie Reimer risks no confusion with the wine list, categorized not only by red, white and rose but such subsets as “bright and light,” “richer and rounder,” light, chillable” and “skin contact.” A single glass selection is available under each heading, which primarily deals in bottles, from $27 to $101. We ordered glasses of Mathiasson Napa Valley rose ($14) and Ovum “Big Salt” ($13) to complement our main courses after polishing off our cocktails with the clams.
The shellfish were sublimely seasoned, not only representing the most harmoniously flavored dish of its type I can recall ordering in a restaurant but the most perfectly cooked. A clam’s adductor muscle pulling effortlessly away from the shell is clear evidence the bivalves didn’t spend a second too long in the stockpot. I steeped the fries in the broth and didn’t leave behind a morsel of lemon zest or garlic.
The broth was a welcome condiment for the fries, deliciously thin and crispy but even better with their aioli that lamentably was in slightly short supply. Bar Juillet’s artisan tableware is small-diameter, but condiment dishes seem undersized. Or maybe it’s the fault of Wesley Reimer’s sauces that compelled us to keep eating.
We regretted running out of Calabrian ranch when a couple pieces of chicken still remained for dipping. I fully expected to associate the boneless, skinless breast with pedestrian chicken strips. And I could not have been more mistaken.
These were impeccably battered, fried and seasoned for the crunchiest yet juiciest restaurant chicken I’ve perhaps ever tasted. Although some diners may balk at paying nearly $20 for a half-dozen pieces of poultry, the dish epitomizes deceptively straightforward preparations that showcase Wesley Reimer’s faultless execution.
Similarly, the duck breast’s even medium-rare doneness preserved the protein’s moisture, tenderness and slight chew. The tangle of crispy fried leek slices on top provided a delightful contrast, and the sticky date jam a sweet counterpoint. I did crave some acid to enhance other flavors on the plate but still would order the duck again.
The only dish that seemed somewhat out of step with the menu description and our expectations was the salad. While it didn’t specify greens, parsley leaves also were not indicated as the main component. Given the almost imperceptible dressing, babiest of “baby” root vegetables and preponderance of parsley, the dish may cause some diners to question its true identity.
“Happy Hour, Drinking Hour” menus are available 4-5 p.m. and 9-11 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Bar Julliet is at 47 N. Main St. See barjuillet.com and reserve at resy.com
A new downtown Medford deli promises freshly made “grab-and-go” fare, “warm and cozy” daily specials and local artisans’ goods.
Good to Go Deli & Catering is slated to reopen from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, at 201 W. Main St. Yvonne Decker purchased the business earlier this year after operating a food cart under the same name. As a brick-and-mortar establishment, Good to Go will serve from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, as well as two Friday evenings each month during warm weather for charcuterie, wine and music.
Local ingredients will be favored at Good to Go, says Decker, who also uses biodegradable packaging. The “quick and healthy” menu offers four sandwiches, including classic club, Waldorf chicken, vegetarian and vegan for $9 each. Asian chicken and vegan quinoa-kale salads cost $11 apiece. Corn and potato salads for $4 per serving complement personal charcuterie plates for $12.
Handmade cards, candles, earrings, paintings, and other accessories and decor items will fill a display case in the deli. Seating is limited during regular hours to several outdoor tables that will expand on Friday evenings. See @goodtogogals on Instagram for updates.
Cheese lovers have about a month to taste a rare release from Rogue Creamery. Flora Nelle is the creamery’s only cheese made with natural rennet, which imparts a denser texture reminiscent of European blues. This spring is the first in five years that produced the recipe, created a decade ago by Creamery co-founder David Gremmels, who married two famed French blues, “d’Auvergne” and “de Gex.”
Pasture forage, including clover, rye and native fescue, culminated in the perfect conditions to make the cheese, aged two months. Serve it on a cheese platter, crumbled into a salad or over beef filet. Nine ounces of Flora Nelle costs $30, available at the Central Point cheese shop, 311 N. Front St., and roguecreamery.com/product/flora-nelle-blue
Free scoops of ice cream, bottles of spring water and artisan food and wine samples headline Sunday’s Good Food Festival.
The event from noon to 4 p.m. complements Medford Food Co-op’s annual owner meeting. The Co-op’s cafe, which hosts the 1 p.m. meeting, also will present cooking demonstrations. The public is welcome for the meeting and festivities at 945 S. Riverside Ave.
Harper’s Sweet Cream Ice Cream will scoop its lemon-lavender, vegan vanilla and gluten-free cookies and cream. Samples include locally made wines, coffee, miso and keto-friendly snacks.
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Sarah Lemon has relished the Rogue Valley’s dining scene for nearly two decades as one of the original contributors to Tempo’s dining column. Her palate has helped to judge some of the region’s culinary competitions and festivals. The former editor of A la Carte, the Mail Tribune’s weekly food section, she writes a biweekly column, The Whole Dish, and blogs and podcasts under the same name. Listen at mailtribune.com/podcasts and read more at mailtribune.com/lifestyle/the-whole-dish. Follow @the.whole.dish on Instagram, @thewholedish on Twitter or see facebook.com/thewholedish.