While "only" sporting 1 star, Jua has been getting a lot of buzz lately, so we took some friends here for their first Michelin experience. It was a great entry point. Service was at a high level, the food was varied, diverse and delicious and the price point can't possibly be beat at $135.
The staff here is extremely warm and outgoing. As we walked through the restaurant to our table, every server made eye contact and greeted us warmly, expressing their gladness that we were dining with them that evening. Our server was lovely - friendly and attentive. The space is a bit loud and there was a slight undertone of being rushed to be sure the next seating was on time. But overall, it is a terrific and welcoming ambience.
The food is terrific. High level cooking, quality ingredients, visually beautiful. The branzino was a small miss, but it was a brand new dish on the menu. Our server asked for our genuine feedback on the dish - "The chef will want to know." It was really well handled.
The winners were the rice porridge, which you just hoped would never end, and the absolutely brilliant duck, paired with so many small but pungent flavors allowing you to marry the duck with sweet, spicy, salty, fruity...on and on at your own direction. It's a fantastic dish in concept and executed perfectly.
The paired wines were also excellent - especially this one rice wine which I am determined to stock. And the desserts were magnificent!
There were any number of service issues that backed up its 1 (not 2) stars. Wine dripped on the table, and then not cleaned up. Difficulty flagging down a server at various points. Small stuff. As I rounded a blind corner to the restroom, a server who saw me grabbed another server to be sure they stood aside as well. (They couldn't see that I was coming.) It wasn't inappropriate, but it was forceful and let you "see behind the curtain" a bit, rather than delivering the effortless service found in 2 and 3 star restaurants.
That said, when a dish was delivered and described as a member of our table was at the restroom, the server came back immediately when she sat down to deliver to her the full dish description as well. Nicely done.
Jua is definitely a recommended destination. It was a terrific meal for an incredible price point and service that delivers a quality experience start to finish. I would return in a heartbeat.
Replying to Steven Smith