Ahh, nothing like watching the sun set over the Intracoastal with a Fat Tire beer and burrata flatbread in hand at Juniper on the Water.
The casual/fine-dining spot is dinner-only in a cozy but elegant setting that combines a Cape Cod feel with Old Florida: high, curved beams overhead, white slat-board trim, polished wood flooring and coral rock pillars plus a covered terrace (call ahead to dock a boat).
The menu offers American staples, including an 8-ounce Angus burger; boneless ribeye with mashed potatoes; New England clam bake (every Tuesday) with Maine lobster for extra; and Mediterranean-inspired plates from pasta pesto with sun-dried tomato and olives to a trio of dips with hummus, smoked eggplant and tzatziki with grilled pita.
Owners and business partners Scott Swaris and Sho Marks bought the old Joseph’s space and renovated the interior, opening about 10 months ago. Swaris is Italian-American and Sri Lankan from Long Island, New York. He came to Miami in 2001 to help open Nobu.
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Swaris’ brother Chris is also an owner and former cook at The Cub Room in New York. He came up with the restaurant’s name. The berries of the cypress-like juniper tree can be used to flavor gin or used as a spice.
Marks is Japanese-American and grew up in Washington Heights, New York, with his adoptive parents. He studied design at Drexel University in Philadelphia and worked in restaurants. He came to Miami four years ago and worked at Mercadito (where he met Swaris) and Sushi Samba.
Marks is the people-person here, meeting and greeting. He and Swaris hired executive chef Sezer Deniz, who is from Istanbul. He worked at Alinea in Chicago and was so inspired he came south to attend Le Cordon Bleu in Miramar, where he graduated valedictorian of his class.
Watch the boats chug by outside with cornmeal-crusted calamari with lemon aioli or steamed middleneck clams in onion crema with parsley pesto to start a meal.
Specials could include braised octopus seared on the plancha with tentacles cut into rounds on top of fennel puree, tomato chutney and olive tapenade with fried potato cakes and celery leaves, which looks like abstract art, or salmon croquetas served over smoked corn salsa and basil aioli with pickled radish slices.
As night descends, move onto seafood paella made with Israeli pearl couscous with shrimp, mussels, clams and two pan-seared fillets of branzino with fried sage leaves, or get braised lamb shank that falls off the bone on a bed of creamy polenta with cranberry-studded au jus.
There’s also grilled head-on prawns served over an herbed polenta cake and moules frites in white-wine garlic sauce with truffle fries.
Sunday brunch offers cured salmon, lobster or pork belly eggs Benedict; cheddar chorizo frittatas; shrimp and grits with bacon and gravy; mahi tacos; and a turkey melt panini. Sip bottomless mimosas while enjoying the Spanish flamenco guitarist. Dress up or come in shorts and flip-flops at this welcome newcomer.
If you go
Place: Juniper on the Water.
Address: 1975 S. Ocean Dr., Hallandale Beach.
Contact: 954-544-3370, juniperonthewater.com.
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday, 5-11 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Sunday; full-bar happy hour 4-7 p.m. weekdays.
Prices: Sunday brunch $10-$19, dinner starters $9-$14, mains $14-$32, sides $6-$8.