Washington's oldest remaining grand French restaurant is, in some ways, its newest. Jean-Pierre was redecorated a year ago, and its soft gray geometry is fresher than the decor of most French restaurants. Its chef is inclined to experiments that make the food even more modern than the interior design. Take, for instance, a summertime lunch of stuffed chicken breast. It looked positively Caribbean, the thinly sliced meat stuffed with bright green avocado pur,ee and bright red pepper pur,ee, plus a beige relief of foie gras, and reformed into a chicken shape. It was more a novelty than a serious lunch, despite its serious price, and it took some getting used to. More successful and hardly less colorful was a platter of assorted steamed fish, blanketed with slivers of red, yellow and green peppers and tiny flowers carved from carrot slices. It, too, looked like tropical sunshine. And it tasted glorious, with its fish undeniably fresh and steamed to ultimate juiciness, then bathed in a light, piquant and delicate vinegar-spiked butter sauce.
That's Jean-Pierre: risky and brazen, most often with results that are excellent, but sometimes slipping into clumsiness. Still, this is a highly professional restaurant, from service staff to wine list, and thus has retained in its decade-plus a loyal and stable fan club. 1835 K St. NW. 466-2022. L $7.50-$14.50, D $13.50-$25. L daily ex Sat, D daily. Closed Sun. AE, CB, DC, MC, V. Res sugg. Full bar.