Spring restaurant season is fully upon us. The Beard Awards are happening. And restaurants put on most anticipated roundups many months ago are finally opening to the public. Next up, Junebaby in Seattle.
1. Edouardo Jordan is a name you should know.
Backstory time: Jordan grew up in Florida, and identifies as Southern, tracing his family roots through Georgia. After culinary school, he apprenticed at the French Laundry before landing in the Per Se kitchen. He then worked at Lincoln in NYC, before heading to Seattle, where he spent years as the chef de cuisine of the now-closed Bar Sajor. In 2015, he opened his debut restaurant, Salare, in a relatively quiet Seattle neighborhood. For many outside of Seattle, Jordan came into national focus with his as-told-to with Lucky Peach in 2016, in which he candidly spoke about the challenges and assumptions he faces as a black man in the restaurant world.
Salare, a 2016 Eater Best New Restaurant, is one of Seattle’s essential dining destinations. Jordan was a 2016 Food & Wine Best New Chef, and is a 2017 James Beard Award nominee for Best Chef: Pacific Northwest.
2. Junebaby is one of the most anticipated restaurants in Seattle — and the country.
In a photo-tour of the restaurant, Eater Seattle calls Junebaby the city’s “hottest new restaurant.” Jordan’s eagerly-awaited follow-up to Salare also landed on Eater’s list of biggest nationwide openings for the year, both because it’s Jordan’s (see above) and also because of the sheer ambition of the project (see below).
3. The menu is a deep dive into Southern food.
Earlier this year, Jordan told Eater he wanted Junebaby to be “a history lesson, a journey; from the whole Middle Passage to the building of America, which was built on the back of African slaves, who became African-Americans.” This mission is reflected on his menu, which debuts with fried chicken feet served with South Carolina-style barbecue sauce, oxtails named for “Momma Jordan,” gumbo, burgoo stew, hoecakes, and smothered pork chops.
It’s also reflected in the restaurant’s interior, which Eater Seattle reports has “blue willow tea cups and pickled vegetables lining floor-to-ceiling shelves, as well as paintings by black artists, including one artistic rendering of the heavily scarred back of a slave named Gordon who escaped a Louisiana plantation. The restaurant’s centerpiece is a massive photograph of curving oak tree branches dripping with Spanish moss and fringed with resurrection fern.”
4. And there’s a Junebaby encyclopedia.
Along with putting a menu on the restaurant’s website (literally every restaurant should do this btw), Jordan published a sprawling digital encyclopedia, too. “I’m in the Pacific Northwest, doing Southern food, so I figured a lot of people might not be familiar with the dishes, ingredients, and techniques,” he told Eater. “I don’t want them coming in with stereotypes.”
5. The restaurant opens tonight, and Jordan is calling BS on “soft opening.”
The restaurant officially opens tonight. That’s fully open — no qualifiers. In an email blast sent earlier this week, the chef wrote: “We are not calling this a soft opening because we plan to go hard right out the gates and no looking back.”