When we moved our headquarters to Clinton from Branchburg, one of the things staffers were most looking forward to was proximity to a town center — and a bevy of new restaurants to try. Five years later, what was once new and different is now the norm…and we’re always on the lookout for new places to eat.

When we noticed that a former bank building in nearby Annandale was getting transformed into a restaurant, we were excited to try it. The restaurant is called Juniper Hill and it’s worth a trip.

Opened by husband and wife team Josh and Jennifer DeChellis, Juniper Hill brands itself as a “family-friendly restaurant and bar serving simple and seasonal food”, but one visit will tell you it’s a little more than that. For example, would you call an appetizer like “Atlantic Black Bass Crudo with white soy sauce, Japanese yuzu pepper, and marinated chive” simple?

But the clean modern/rustic main dining room and bar are inviting and the food is superb, if a little on the pricey side (dinner entrees on the current menu range from $19 to $43) for our area. They have even preserved the vault of the old bank, turning it into a more private dining room for up to 8 people. Chef Josh DeChellis is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and has worked for a number of prominent chefs such as Wolfgang Puck before leading the kitchen of a few noteworthy restaurants in NYC. He even appeared as a challenger to Bobby Flay on an episode of TV’s “Iron Chef” cooking show.

Currently they are open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday, but have plans to open for lunch service in the main dining room. The patio and bar are open from 3pm to close.