New Restaurant on Abbot Kinney?
- PlonkMan Jul 24, 2008 12:43 PM
Does anyone know anything about a place about to open on the corner of Abbot Kinney and Milwood, just north of Palms?
We tried Gjelina Sunday night. Sat on the patio-- a really nice little area. A few dining tables and a few couch/chairs with low-slung tables. The interior decor is a bit dark, but I found it more sleek than depressing. Favorite non-food thing: the music was the PERFECT volume. Not so loud as to interfere w/conversation but enough that you could hear the tunes. Nice mix, as well.
Food was good. We plan to go again and try more on the menu. We had a "cured meats" platter ($12) with what we joked were "baguette chips" (baguette slices smashed in panini press). There was a country pate, a duck rillette, and some smoked proscuitto along with garnishes to give some acidic balance: roasted red pepper, tiny pickles, onion, mustard. I wasn't expecting much from the green salad, $8, but we loved it. The dressing has some subtle heat that snuck up on you after several bites. The croutons were fun little pieces as well. We'll definitely have that again. We also had the prawns ($12) and a tortellini stuffed w/asparagus in an arugula pesto ($15). My first few tortellini seemed to have a bland filling, but later ones were very nice (perhaps a little cooking water had gotten in). The flavors on both these dishes were straightforward, clean, and balanced. The mint iced tea (a carafe for $3) was quite good-- again, well-balanced. We tried the honey pine nut tart ($7); we liked that it was not cloyingly sweet. There's a nice selection of wines by the glass (enjoyed the Pinot Grigio $12-- others are less expensive).
Saw dishes go by headed for other tables and most looked great. Yeah, the service had a couple very minor glitches-- but it was easy to flag a bus boy or runner when we needed s/t. Already thinking about what to order next time.
I ate at Gjelina on Thursday night and it was packed--reservations are definitely necessary. The design of the place is gorgeous--dark with amazing brick floors and a really cool bathroom. It looks like it could been in any urban city in the world with a very charming patio in the back (which also requires reservations). The walls in the main dining area are especially stunning, with a really interesting sculptural quality. There are three communal tables in the middle where I suppose you could just stop in and might be the only reservation-less spot in the place.
There were four people and we drank a lot, but not crazy and had quite a few of the local plates. The tab was around $90/person with tax and tip--$360. The mushroom toast is, indeed wonderful, though I wish it were larger. Not Bar Pinxto size, but still. We had the cheese plate (again, pretty small) and the cod, the mushroom and taleggio pizza, aforementioned mushroom toast, heirloom tomato with Gioia burrata salad (served, oddly with arugula and not basil), desserts (strawberry and rhubarb crumble and a flourless cake).
All of the food was really yummy and local. They use all of the "right" purveyors, Gioia, Niman Ranch etc. The chef is some 23-year-old phenom who already has his first restaurant.
Overall it was a great experience except for the overzealous bus boys (there must be a more PC term for this occupation, but I can't think of it right now), who kept trying to take our food before we were done with it. Our waiter was very nice and became more efficient as the crowd died down. The host was kind of snotty and unpleasant, but otherwise the service was quite acceptable.
The only thing that I would change are the portion sizes. On my drive home, I went by the otherroom and almost stopped for a "Let's Be Frank" so that I wouldn't have a growly tummy.
I would recommend this place, as it's really delicious and the ambiance is pretty great. Plus, it's always nice to have somewhere new in the neighborhood. I would say that reservations are a MUST, however.