Discover Juniper Cafe

By Michelle McShane

I am usually self conscious when pointing my camera in a public place (unless my kids are the subject). I am not a photographer (I use the manual setting… all the time) and I certainly don’t feel like I look like I know what I’m doing.
 
However, this past weekend, when I pulled my camera out and starting randomly shooting while at the Juniper Cafewell, I felt like I belonged. I was, after all, inside the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning – and had just narrowly missed getting a table as the cafe had been overrun by a cloud of pink; a troupe of small tutued ballerinas, likely from the Kingston School of Dance.
 

Place you order here! (Photo credit Brian Chard Design http://www.brianchard.com/)
Place you order here! (Photo credit Brian Chard Design)

A year and a half in the making, Juniper Cafe finally opened it’s door on January 12, 2016. And it didn’t take long for it to become a busy, happening little spot. The first time I checked out the newest cafe in town was for breakfast. I had their bacon breakfast sandwich. Let me try to describe what I tasted. First off, my family and I raise hens and eat fresh eggs everyday. So, I have high expectations when it comes to eggs. And I have never tasted a creamier poached egg. Then there was the house made Haanover View Farms bacon: the flaky biscuit that held it all together was like pie crust. Juniper Cafe’s breakfast sandwich is like Grandma’s pie. Only in a breakfast sandwich.
 
The next time I ventured in, my sons were in tow. I tried the cappucnino, and the boys said yes to hot chocolate with house made marshmallows with a cookie each, (almost the size of their face – one oatmeal raisin, the other a gluten-free cocoa walnut meringue). Apparently the hot chocolate was “country like… it tasted more… like better… it calmed and relaxed me… way better than what comes out of a package.” The marshmallow “…tasted like whipped cream, like dried whip cream that was minty and tasted real and fresh.” The cocoa meringue cookie also got a rave review from my 8 year old “When I bit into it, it was like I bit down into chocolately nut fudge… like umm… it was just great, you should learn how to make them, Mom.”
 
Do I have a food critic in the making?
 
Amber crafting a cappucino (Photo credit Brian Chard Designs)
Amber crafting a cappucino (Photo credit Brian Chard Designs)

A pretty cappucino!
A pretty cappucino!

“The” cocoa merignue coookie that blew away my son.
“The” cocoa merignue coookie that blew away my son.

Like other cafes and restaurants in Kingston, there is local art adorning the walls. I noticed that the piece behind me was actually made by an old friend of mine, which was a pleasant surprise! But unlike other cafes in town, you will not find free wifi at the Juniper. Amber Thom, one of the owners, tells me it’s intentional “We want to encourage our customers to turn off their devices, chat with a neighbour, take 5 and enjoy the view.”
 
The view! Once we hit patio season, The Juniper Cafe will open up their patio, the only “true” waterfront patio in Kingston, literally just metres away from the shore. And they will extend their hours in the summer, to 7 days a week with evening licensed service on the patio.
 
A sample of Skot Caldwell’s encaustic art, adorning the limestone walls.
A sample of Skot Caldwell’s encaustic art, adorning the limestone walls.

This offering too! Local brews
This offering too! Local brews

Amber, and partner Chef Jamie are no strangers to the food scene in Kingston; they also run a catering company, Epicurious, of which I have also had the pleasure of experiencing earlier this year. They are also proud to be sourcing at least 70% of their ingredients from Kingston area farms and food producers.
 
Sometime in the near future, make your way down to the Tett Centre. Take part in an art workshop (Parents: Check out Saturday morning Kid Creative programs!), borrow an instrument from Joe’s M.I.L.Lwatch artisans work their craft in the open window studios. Grab a coffee and treat from Juniper. Slip out the door and enjoy the breeze off of Lake Ontario. Pull out your camera and unself-consciously notice your surroundings.