France is an amazing place for food. Almost any place you visit is bound to deliver a memorable meal. On our second visit across the pond, we stayed at a friend’s family’s farmhouse retreat in southern France. One day, the gang set out for the day’s activities, including visiting a cheesy cave. After exiting the stalagmites and -tites, the group decided to eat at the cave cafe. I pouted slightly, upset that we would waste a meal in France at a freakin’ commercial cave. My-oh-my was I wrong after the cavemen delivered one of the best meals we had on our trip. Ugga-wugga! But it’s the street cafes in any town that truly deliver the miracle of French cuisine.
Evoking Parisian street cafes with viney vibes and Franco-food is June’s All Day, a neighborhood bistro at the corner of South Congress and Annie. Conceived by McGuire Moorman Hospitality–thems of Joann’s Fine Foods, Jeffrey’s, Josephine House, Clark’s, Elizabeth St. Cafe, Perla’s Oyster Bar, and, a personal top fiver, Lambert’s, June’s is a fine wine bar with food to match (but June’s is open all day, so there are pastries and lattes in the morning).
The place has a friendly French cafe feel with several tables huddled on the sidewalk for pop-eyed people watching and a dozen inside scattered about a black-and-white checkered floor. A long, curving bar partitions the corner kitchen from the customers. Floor to ceiling glass doors along Congress allow the space to completely open to the street in favorable weather.
Somewhat sacrilegiously, we drank cocktails instead of wine, me with a June’s Punch (many rums, brandy, grapefruit, absinthe, clarified milk, green tea, spices, and pandan; $12) and she with a Gimlet Cocktail (Ford’s Gin, Velvet Falernum, Lime Cordial, and “Blue Raspberry” Jam; $12), both tasty and well-balanced. Free fizzy water (bonus points!) and just enough bread and oil to whet the appetite set the stage for our meal, which started with Salt Cod Croquettes (with mojama and laurel leaf aioli; $11) before proceeding to June’s Charbroiled Burger (grilled onions & jalapeños, American cheese, pickles, and French fries; $18) and Smoked Salmon Nicoise Salad (with dill creme frâiche; $20).
The croquettes were more tater than cod and, although perfectly cooked, a little bland, even with the wee smudge of aioli. And the burger, something McGuire Moorman are famous for at their other restaurants, was good but not great, at least compared to the ones at Bonhomie (RIP) or Justine’s. The Nicoise salad, on the other hand, was complexly delicious with the substitution of salmon for tuna. The service was attentive with a light touch with everyone involved in taking care of empty plates and glasses.
Although Bon Appetit included June’s as one of their best new American restaurants in 2017 as did Food & Wine and Esquire, we were not sent a-wind. However, if she was walking distance from our house, we’d be here all day every week checking out the rest of the menu (which includes a breakfast chalupa, a Boston salad, and matzo balls with avocado and jalapenos) as well as Sunday Pub Night with Indian food and June’s Tunes (DJ nights on Saturday and Sunday).
This review is part of our sequential tour-through-the-alphabet of Austin’s restaurant scene. Now you know our ABCs!
web&where: interwebs; 1722 south congress avenue; menu; reservations
what’s the deal? A French-style bistro hugging SoCo; table service
overall: ** (food**; drink***; atmosphere**; service***; instagrammability**)
does it scramble? If there’s anything left over!
– meh [think twice]
* OK [it’ll get the job done]
** good [solid neighborhood joint]
*** damn good [we’ll definitely be back]
**** yippity-yikes that was amazeballs [fantastic; one of the best]
***** holy sh!t [transcendental; best of the best]