Moon Juice, a new juice shop in Venice, conjures the same feeling as Alex Trebek’s pronunciation of French words on Jeopardy!: mild admiration, moderate apprehension and, mostly, annoyance.
While juices and smoothies from Moon Juice hit the palate in a thoughtful and provocative manner, the prices also hit one’s wallet hard. Justifying $9 for a bottle of juice, no matter how gourmet, is too heavy a task for any student.
The storefront physically embodies Moon Juice’s postmodern bent. A small patio, with a bench, shaded by a large tree, rests on concrete and stones.
The interior is primarily refrigerated to keep the juices chilled and the shelves cold enough for organic nuts and dried fruits to be displayed. Most significantly, seating is scarce — if you want to sit in the shop with three friends, one of them will be stuck in a child’s chair.
As amusing as it is to see a six-foot-tall man squatting on a short wooden stool, it’s disappointing, as even lesser franchise juice shops generally provide space for patrons to enjoy their drinks.
The setup would make sense if Moon Juice were closer to the Venice boardwalk — in that scenario, customers could get their fix and stroll along the sand while sipping.
The shop, however, is seven blocks from the shoreline. By the time you walk to the beach, you’ll probably be halfway done with your beverage.
Additionally, though workers are able to speak at length about the health benefits of the shop’s juices and smoothies, which have no sugar added and are made naturally from organic produce, Moon Juice has no printed materials detailing nutritional information.
The cashier’s explanation of “not having a laboratory” is an unfortunate excuse for a store that seems to pride itself on offering tangible nutritional benefits.
And though a new eatery needs time to develop its details, an eatery that advertises its food as being healthy should have more than vague health benefits like “fat-flushing, virus-fighting and body-strengthening,” for the carrot, lime & coconut beverage on its menu.
When shelling out around $10 for a non-alcoholic drink, customers ought to know what they’re getting.
Despite these shortcomings, Moon Juice’s products are wonderful. All of the concoctions sampled touch different areas of the flavor palate in the most delectable ways possible. To top it all off, the cold-pressed juices do not get heated or oxidized in the process, making all of the products safe for raw vegan foodies.
One deliciously orange drink, Spiced Yam, surrounds the taste of garnet yams with tart red apple and wholesome carrot, and punctuates it all with a hint of ginger root and a touch of sharp cinnamon. Gingered Lemon, from the $12 section of the juice menu, impressively brings out the sweetness in lemon and green apple, and again applies a gentle prickle of ginger.
The best selections, however, seem to be the Moon Milk options. These shake-like beverages offer more familiar flavors with perfectly executed twists.
The Banana Walnut is as thick as a McFlurry without the added sugar or animal products, and miraculously tastes like a liquefied piece of your grandmother’s banana bread.
The option to make your own concoction would be more appreciated if it were not so out of place in a shop with such a high standard for flavor combinations — it’s like seeing Spago let diners concoct their own entrées.
The option is nice, but considering that Moon Juice charges around $10 for a drink, the store shouldn’t be afraid to take charge and maintain high recipe standards all the time.
Despite complex and scrumptious blends, the execution of Moon Juice often comes off as pretentious.
Serving raw and mostly vegan foods of the highest quality is an admirable trend to follow, especially when a restaurant pays such close attention to taste and mouthfeel.
But the exorbitant prices seem unnecessary, especially when you can replicate much of the experience by buying your own apples, ginger and lemons and sticking them in a juicer.
Because of these flaws, Moon Juice is not worth the trek from campus to Venice; if you happen to be spending the day at the beach, you’re probably better off getting an apple at a supermarket.
And though following sustainability, organic food and other trends toward an eco-friendly, healthful world is admirable, it’s not enough to do so at an unreasonable price.