Gjelina is a Los Angeles restaurant rated, celebrated, and embraced by all kinds of foodies, with a hankering for ‘The LA Experience‘.
This is one of Venice Beach’s most notorious low-key eateries, which sits on what I can now verify, is the coolest block in California – Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
I have plans to give my readers, a virtual tour of Abbott Kinney Boulevard soon, so stay tuned to the blog, for that!
As Tim Hayward of the Financial Times so vividly encapsulated the experience, Gjelina has a leitmotif of: “muscular dude-food meets healthy eating, with an Italian accent and American ingredients.”
Gjelina, part of the Gjusta Group which has been synonymous with Venice Beach dining, represents the quintessential gospel of restaurant dining:
Make it good. Make it graceful. Make it memorable.
I’m going to be honest: I did not head to Gjelina for all the right reasons.
I’m not usually one to fall into the mindless celebrity endorsement train, but during my train ride from Downtown LA to Santa Monica, I read some articles about what to do, and where to eat, while in the neighbourhood.
The LA Times, whose poignant human-interest stories and vibrant imagery, I had spent more than 6 months diligently consuming on Instagram, led me to an insightful interview the publication had done, with noted Angeleno and musician, Lenny Kravitz.
Kravitz gushed about the incredible vibe the area that stretches from Santa Monica to Venice Beach, has. He noted enjoyable personal shopping & dining memories with family while in LA, as well as making some rocking recommendations…which is how I ended up making a concerted effort, to visiting Gjelina.
NO PHOTOS, OF THE RESTAURANT & ITS CLIENTELE, ALLOWED!
Gjelina is technically fine dining with Cali-minded food – as everything , including the kitchen wares, are carefully curated (probably by an industry authority).
For how casual and indulgent the rustic restaurant seems, it boasts cult-favourite dishes and precision with every fragrant mouthful.
They’ve been around for nearly a decade; And the Gjusta Group has not been idle after being lauded for having ‘framed a moment’ in Cali’s food culture, with their play on Mediterranean & Italian flavor, married with health sensibilities.
I got the menu, and was surprised by the single leaf of paper showcasing a broad latitude to what constitutes a meal in this renowned establishment.
The options of the season, include: Charcuterie, wood-fired pizzas, buckwheat pancakes, tangine, roasted fennel, house cured seafood, Morrocan baked eggs, or Black Eye Pea Stew.
The award-winning chef & co-owner, Travis Lett, is very hands-on with guests on the floor, and I was honoured to get a warm and brief introduction (while I still could, as there are rumours the partnership may be dissolving soon)…and some incredible almost farm-to-table cooking.
I began my foodie journey, with the charcuterie of Anchovy & Burrata Toasts, Pepperonata, Capers & Sherry ($15).
Firstly, I’m still not 100% sure I know what an anchovy is – but every time I taste one, I don’t like it.
It turns out that all it takes, is a dexterity of flavor and texture, to get me raving about the briny goodness of anchovies.
The charcuterie choice, seems overwhelming flavor-wise, but there is a fascinating mouth-feel to the fresh dish – a play between the particularly creamy (light Burrata cheese) & crispy (crostini), as well as sweet (Pepperonata) and salty (Anchovy).
Apparently brunch is the best meal at Gjelina, but I came to the restaurant for a perfectly timed dinner at sunset.
…Turns out, scoring a table here is really hard (which, I should have known in my heart-of-hearts), so I had the luck of the devil!
The main event I cant help but commend myself for choosing, was the Crispy Muscovy Duck Confit, matched with Braised Cabbage, as well as Chicory, Panache Striped Fig, and a Sherry Vinaigrette ($28).
I’ve had duck confit before, but never has it been made with such care as to be perfectly moist & tender within, and maintain a crispy skin on the outside. This succulent duck confit, falling off the bone, is a testament to Chef Travis Lett’s tasty skill.
The excess salt expected to hit ones tongue potently with every bite, is tempered by the apple’s juiciness. The bacon was not to be forgotten in this marvel of savoury discourse, as its particular properties unified the taste experience.
Of course there are drinks to be had – the alcoholic, non-alcoholic, and health-focused ones. I grabbed a simple enough champagne cocktail, and steered clear of any American wines, as I’ve hear...things.
In between nibbles, one cant help but marvel at the dark enclave situated on such a bright boulevard.
Gjelina is the ‘brooding hottie’ everyone is clamouring to get the attention of – its cool and its sexy…and I feel a little stalker’ish every time I gush about it.
Pictures aren’t allowed, but I managed to scour the net for a few approved pictures of the restaurants warm interiors:
An exploration of the restaurant reveals a fire pit, which centers their halcyon patio. The restaurant acoustics are also noteworthy, as they are are optimal for savouring the hip space, and any conversation had.
Gjelina is an unhurried but efficient machine, of incoming and outgoing bodies. In case you want to dine-and-dash, the takeaway counter Gjelina has next door to the main restaurant, is an alternative to the sit-down dining.
In a list of best things about Gjelina: add extensive hours, as visitors can come from 8am till late.
The only iffy situation, is the 20% mandated service fee…which is kind of ridiculous!
Celeb-spotting: Eat here, where you can spot Drake, Lenny Kravitz, Busy Phillips, and more.
1427 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291, United States
Tel: +1 310 450 1429