Hi, my name is Bri and I'm a sucker for over-hyped restaurants in trendy neighborhoods. Especially restaurants that have so much hype it condones publishing a popular cookbook of their recipes.
Which is why I ended up dining at Gjelina when I was in Venice Beach last week... for the hype, for the sceney scene...
Oh, and did I mention the delicious food?
According to a very melodramatic Zagat blurb, "It may be easier to "get blessed by the Pope" than to snag a seat at this "buzzing" midpriced American on Abbot Kinney".
Though it wasn't necessarily easy, getting a reso at Gjelina wasn't as hard as Zagat made it sound. Sure, I had to put my name on the waitlist a week and half out for dinner on a nondescript Thursday night in February, but hey.
When it came down to it, I ended up with a 6:30pm table for two right next to the window... a people-watcher's paradise.
Upon arriving, I got led right to my table and was stoked on the location. The restaurant is comprised of four main seating options: private tables in the main front room, communal tables in the front room, private tables in the back room, or tables on the romantic back patio. While the patio makes for a perfect date night, having a private table in the front next to the window was a great spot for me to enjoy Gjelina solo.
I spent my first ten minutes asking my poor server, Myan, to give me more time. Not because I was overwhelmed with choice... I hadn't even glanced at the menu yet. No, I needed more time because I had to figure out best configuration for my camera given the dim lighting. #bloggerpriorities
Eventually and much to Myan's surprise, I stopped pissing him off and instead began ordering everything on the menu, starting with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and their Tuscan Kale salad with shaved fennel, radish, lemon, ricotta salata and breadcrumbs.
Yeah. It was pretty damn tasty.
While I whetted my appetite with my superfood salad, I took in the rest of the menu and decided to really just go for it... I ordered one thing each from four different menu categories: Vegetable, Salads, Pizza and Plates.
Even though I was pretty sure I was going to order one of their famous pizzas, I didn't want to fill up on that too early because, really? How lame. Instead I decided to order my "Vegetable" and my "Plates" first.
For the veggie dish, Myan convinced me to go with their Crispy Butterball Potato, covered in horseradish, pickled red onion, aioli and dill. This is essentially the fanciest potato salad I have ever had... a deconstructed potato salad, if you will.
It was also apparently Myan's favorite dish! That's what he said anyway. And you know what? I appreciate a server who can convincingly sell every dish on the menu as their fave. So good on you, Myan. Good on you.
For my "Plates," I decided to try to go for something different, something outside of my usual carb-heavy preferences. Scanning my options, I was intrigued by the Persian Bean Stew, a stew with purple barley, black lime and pickled onion. How exotic! And extremely yummy... this is the only dish I consumed in its entirety while at the restaurant. Because also I think Myan would have gone blind rolling his eyes at me if I asked him to pack up a few bites of leftover soup.
Finally, it was Pizza and Rosé time. I knew there was no way I was going to eat more than a slice while at Gjelina, but I still had to try it. So I ordered their Pomodoro pizza, a confit tomato, oregano, and olive oil pie, and added burrata cheese. Sadly, this was the least impressive course of my meal: though still good, the pizza was paper thin. I ate a slice while it was hot and then packed the rest up to go with my leftover potato salad and the rest of my salad salad.
When the dessert menu came, I was so sure that I was going to order their famed Butterscotch Pots de Crème with Salted Caramel Sauce. But with a sore throat still bothering me from the last dregs of Strep, all I wanted was something nice and cold. When Myan told me that their sorbet flavors for the night were Kiwi and Rhubarb, I promptly ordered a scoop of each and was not disappointed.
Besides... with food as good and prices as reasonable as Gjelina's, it won't take much convincing to get me to make another trip back. I'll get to you sooner or later, butterscotch!
Phone: (310) 450-1429
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291