Seattle used to be missing the type of restaurant where you could feel a little fancy gnawing on a fried chicken drumstick while drinking a glass of champagne. Sure, the city already had plenty of options for meat-and-three plates and barbecue and other things that made us want to listen to a mix CD of Wagon Wheel for all 12 tracks. But your options were either a Southern dinner, or an upscale dinner. Having an upscale Southern dinner wasn’t really possible.
But now we have Junebaby, which defies the mutual exclusivity of the country meal and the city meal with the kind of pinkies-up Southern food that you could have for a special occasion.
Normally you wouldn’t impress your parents or a date with pimento cheese, but then there’s Junebaby’s pimento cheese, which made us rethink everything we thought we knew about cheese spread. There are also various housemade breads like biscuits and yeast buns, classic entrees like cornmeal crusted catfish, and a rotating daily entree like the Friday-only smoked brisket dinner - which is absolutely worth making plans for. It’s also possible to order lighter, and not-so-specifically-Southern - their farro salad with ramps and mushrooms (and ok, bacon drippings) is also stupid good. But don’t come here actively trying to be healthy.
Also don’t come to Junebaby expecting to be beaten over the head with the Southern theme. You won’t find the same amount of grease as some of the more casual Southern spots in the city, but if you do get some oil on the corner of your mouth you can wipe it with your cloth napkin in between sips of your custom sparkling craft cocktail. And while the comfort food and overall experience is certainly classed-up, the space itself is pretty simple. It’s just an attractive room with low-key Southern touches here and there - a section of wall dedicated to shelves of mason jars of pickled things, a painting of willow trees, and, well, that’s pretty much it. Junebaby’s concept is subtle, and it works.
So the next time you’re looking for an experience that’s different from Seattle’s many upscale Italian trattorias and white-tablecloth seafood institutions, you should head for Junebaby. Especially if you hit it on a Friday, this place delivers on almost everything you’d want from a slightly fancy Southern meal. All that’s missing is the Wagon Wheel soundtrack.
These biscuits make up for every bad tube of reduced-fat Pillsbury crescent blasphemy you’ve ever had to eat at an extended family Thanksgiving dinner. We wish the order came with more than two, but these things are dense, so it’s probably for the better.
This outrageously good cheese/pimento/mayo spread is mandatory for the table. It comes with housemade crackers and pickled vegetables, and tastes like a fancy version of what you would normally get on a Southern nana’s porch with Premium saltines, some gherkins, and a watery glass of sweet tea. Try it spread on the biscuits too.
Adding leaves for health is commendable, but look elsewhere. This plate has black walnuts and a tarragon vinaigrette, and it sounds great. But don’t waste your time - this is so salty it tastes like drinking a marathon runner’s foot soak.
An excellent way to have something a little lighter (emphasis on little). It has this creaminess going on that’s similar to a risotto, and also ramps, mushrooms, and... bacon drippings.
The Friday-only brisket dinner alone is the sole reason why you should blow off whatever happy hour game night you have planned/didn’t want to participate in anyway and come here instead. It has excellent flavor thanks to 15 hours of smoking, and comes with top-notch mac and cheese, smooth mashed potatoes, and a big block of homemade white bread. There’s some vinegar-ish carrot slaw on the side too, but you don’t really need that sh*t.