The first time you walk into Juliet, you may be tempted to laugh in its face. The Union Square restaurant presents its food in “Acts,” and prints poems on its menu to create “an immersive storytelling” dining experience. You may call it pretentious. You may call it cutesy. Or you may think you were electrocuted by an Edison light bulb while trying on a stupid hat, and then transported to a mythical land on a fixed-gear bike ironically named Steve The Bike.
But then you’ll sit down and order a drink. You’ll chat with someone who’s eagerly brought you an amuse-bouche along with a detailed explanation of every ingredient it’s made with and the farmers who grew them. You’ll see that the person at the next table is practically bouncing with anticipation as they sneak a peek at someone else’s food. And that’s when you’ll find yourself jokeless. Like one of your mom’s Instagram captions, there’s nothing funny about it. Because Juliet is simultaneously the most interesting and least pretentious French fine dining experience in Boston, and also happens to be most earnest restaurant we’ve ever been to.
Juliet doesn’t look like much. The space might’ve been converted from an old Claire’s Jewelry, the tables and chairs are mismatched and nicked up, and they don’t make an effort to hide things like power cords and box fans. But it’s fitting that the place is so low-key, because so much goes into the dinner itself.
The restaurant puts on a new “production” every few weeks, completely flipping its tasting menu. Dinner changes frequently based on food availability, the season, and, seemingly, whatever they feel like doing on any given day. Don’t even bother looking at the menu on the website when you book your “ticket,” because there’s a good chance they’ll change it up based on whatever they found at the farmer’s market that morning. Go here in the summer and you’ll get lots of berries, corn, and tomato. Go here in October, and you’ll end up eating a lot of apples. It’ll be French-ish, it will include some high-end touches like caviar and truffles. But above all else, everything will be extremely well-executed.
The best part about Juliet—and we can’t believe we’re saying this—are the 20-second explanations you get from the staff on what you’re about to eat. These people are thrilled to tell you about what they’ve just made, and these people have a lot to do with why you’ll leave Juliet feeling oddly good about humanity. This place’s earnestness is contagious.
So go to Juliet, and then volunteer at a puppy shelter or something. You can make jokes later.
The menu changes every few weeks, but here’s an idea of the kinds of things you might eat at Juliet.
You could say that this is something of a deconstructed salad, but considering that it comes with caviar, delicate little puffs of egg, and a delicious ham terrine type-thing with warm mussel dressing, calling it a salad would be an insult.
The only real misstep on the menu, as the broth is so thin that it borders on a bowl of hot water. But given that it looks like a miniature koi pond, it is one of the prettiest soups you’ll ever see.
A simple but great dish thanks to wild mushrooms and black truffle.
This is what Thanksgiving would taste like if (1) we all had the guts to admit that chicken is better than turkey, and (2) we actually knew what to do with apples, onions, and Calabrian chili.
For those of you on Team Savory, know that the dollops of saffron perfectly balance out a dish that otherwise might be a little sweet.