Wednesday, October 15, 2008

FRENCH WITHOUT MUCH FAT: The owners of the Juice Joint Cafe (1025 Vermont Ave. NW; 202-347-6783) have added a French twist to their good-for-you strategy: Adrien Marsoni, whose cooking once graced the tables at the late Montsouris and the lively Bistrot du Coin.

The hire, by Jim and Tom Holland, is part of a plan for the business to expand beyond its cramped downtown digs. The brothers hope to open a second eatery on Pennsylvania Avenue and a central kitchen in Arlington.

The arrival of the 28-year-old Marsoni has been followed by the appearance of vichyssoise and duck a l'orange on the cafe's specials board and curried chicken and orzo salad in the refrigerator case. Regulars shouldn't worry. "He believes in juice and healthy cooking," says Tom Holland of his new partner. As before, "there's no butter" in the food at the 11-year-old Juice Joint.

So what makes that vichyssoise so creamy? "Soy milk," says the chef. Removing the fat from the duck makes for a leaner duck a l'orange, and the curried chicken salad gets its savor from free-range chicken, shredded coconut and raisins. Vegetable sushi, one of Marsoni's recent specials, featured brown rice, asparagus, shredded carrot and roasted shiitakes.

And what pairs best with that sushi? Jim bows to his brother: "Carrot, apple, beet and ginger juice," otherwise known as "Tom's Choice."

-- Tom Sietsema

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