Showing posts with label local farm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label local farm. Show all posts

Friday, August 15, 2008

Gjelina, Unpolished ABK Gem

We went to try out Gjelina, a new hopping place on Abbot Kinney. It was a Monday night buy they were super packed. The main dining room was extremely, extremely loud and it made me think twice about eating there. We were told that it would be a 30 minute wait but after about 15 minute one of the hostesses said that she had a couple of non-counter options for me.

She took me to the back room and the patio, which was A LOT quieter - thank god ...
I chose to sit on one of the couches they had on the patio. Very cozy, the patio is very nice.
I have to agree that the service still needs a lot of work. The waitress was very pleasant, the food came pretty quickly, so why do I say that? Well ... it's the order that the dishes came in :(
We ordered: a platter of cured meats, the arugula and sweet corn salad with grape tomatoes and ricotta, the grilled Monterey Bay squid with rocket salad, and the Mushroom Toast.

First came the Mushroom Toast (not the salad first?)
Easily my favorite dish of the night. The portions here are pretty small, but then again they are priced accordingly (pretty much tapas-size). I wasn't that interested in it in the beginning and if it wasn't for the reviews I would not have ordered it, but this dish was amazing.
Giant mushrooms that are amazingly flavorful. The sauce is slightly creamy and is just great!
Don't share this with more than one other person ... otherwise you will be fighting over it!!

Then next came the Grilled monterey bay squid, with rocket and chimichurri
The squids were great, not too chewy and the sauce is wonderful, but the arugula/rocket is a bit bitter for my taste ...
The chimichurri didn't add much in my opinion (besides relieving the bitter taste in my mouth).

After this dish we realized we won't have enough food since the portions are small, so we ordered the grilled shrimp. In the meantime, our cured meat platter came. It consisted of:

Duck confit
My fave from this dish. Very good (although it doesn't top the one I recently tried at Bar Tartine's in SF).

Salami, made in NY
Pretty good, but I'm no expert.

Homemade Elk Terrine with Cherries
Now, this was an interesting piece. It was pretty good and gets a plus for uniqueness. Plus I've never had elk and I liked this terrine quite a bit.

The platter was served with their homemade mustard sauce which I thought was delicious.

The shrimps came pretty quickly after, which just made me wonder if they had completely forgotten about my salad ... Anyway I chowed down on my shrimps first:
The waitress had mentioned that the shrimps were "huge" but they really weren't. Three of these lads divided by two people left you wanting. The shrimps were pretty good, and the sauce was also tasty, but I don't know if three pieces were worth our $12.

So this is where I started going ... "Uhm ... where is my salad?" The waitress apologized and said that it'll be right out, but it still took a while. In the meantime, someone brought over another one of the shrimps. We told them we had ours already (although we were eyeing these since we were still hungry!)

Well, finally, the long awaited salad came!
There was not that much sweet corn and I'm a corn lover so that's a minus ... and again, the arugula is too bitter for my taste. I wonder why ... I usually love arugula :( Note to self: no more arugula from Gjelina. Get mushrooms instead! After that long wait for it, it was rather anticlimactic.

Soo ... salad, and then dessert! Funky way of dining, I'd say.
Again, the portions are small so we weren't full and wanted one dessert each. We were eyeing another table who had the peach cobbler and the flourless chocolate cake, so we went ahead and ordered those. The waitress said that these two are the best, but I saw a chocolate walnut pudding on the menu that looked really2 interesting. Must try next time.

The peach cobbler ($8) is one of the best I've ever had!It's pretty small and the crust is nothing special, although good. The deal clincher is the peaches though! For a fruit dessert, the fruits really make a big difference and a lot of places don't seem to pay that much attention to it, but the peaches they used here were excellent (at least for tonight)!

The flourless chocolate cake was also good
Rich and dense. The chopped nuts add a nice touch to the whole thing.
I think I've had my share of flourless chocolate cake though and would probably have been happier with the chocolate walnut pudding or such ...

Overall, I thought Gjelina is pretty good, with the mushroom toast and peach cobbler being the highlights of my meal. I would only go if I can get a patio or back room seating - I'd go deaf in the main dining room. The couches are pretty cozy and would be nice and romantic for a couple, although eating from the coffee table was a bit of a challenge. Service needs a lot of work, but hopefully they will work out all these kinks.

1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291 (310) 450-1429

Gjelina on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Animal Instinct

I tried out Animal last week after reading a Chowhound thread on it. Still unsignaged, we went for a 7.15 reservation and when we got there, only two other tables were filled. But surprisingly it was still loud, probably because 1) there was a table of six men drinking and chatting and 2) what's with the wall, tile floors, and hardwood tables and chairs, harsh sounds tend to reverberate.

At any rate, let's move on to the food.
For appetizers we started with the Pork Ribs with bread and rocket salad:The ribs were kind of fatty, but otherwise they were perfect! Tender meats falling off the bones ... the sauce was also amazing!
I've had the Niman Ranch ribs at Slanted Door but these ribs here surpass Slanted Door's by a biiig margin.

The bread was soaked in olive oil. Besides the arugula, it was definitely not really a healthy plate :P

We also had the Marinated leeks, spinach, poached eggs, serena and bacon:
I really like eggs, and poached eggs, even for dinner. There was a lot of bacon which adds to the flavor of the leeks, although I liked the spinach in this dish better.

I had the quail fry for my entree (unfortunately the picture is blurry, I'm so sorry!)
The sauce was good, but it was too much with the quail fry - together they become too salty. But it was perfect for the grits and greens.
Oh, and great thick bacon. Again, great with the other sides, but for me, the fried quail legs should be eaten in isolation to get the full, unadulterated flavor - and not get salt overdose.

My friend got the monkfish with beans
The monkfish was also pretty good, juicy and the broth is good. But, I was too preoccupied with my quail fry :P If I had to choose ... well no question about it, quail all the way.

One of the desserts we got was what the waitress recommended,
Who would've thought to put bacon on a chocolate cake? (I must say this restaurant puts bacon on a lot of things :P ) but it works surprisingly well. The bacon bits give both crunchiness and a bit of saltiness that go well with the rich, sweet chocolate.

The other dessert we got was the White peach and Mulberry Crisp.
What is the difference between a crisp and a cobbler anyway? I'm not really sure yet, I'm going to have to look this up. But anyway, the crust of this crisp was what I would expect from a cobbler (but I may be completely wrong), but it was very good nonetheless. The combination of the white peach and mulberry went very well, and it was perfect since it would otherwise be hard to decide which one to get! I was missing my ice cream with this though - don't know maybe I'm just too used to it? Pies/cobblers/etc seem to always be too rich and sweet to me not to cut with some cold vanilla ice cream?

My final judgment? I thought all the food was great. Creative and interesting ideas with solid preparation. Reasonable prices, good service. I would definitely, definitely be back, despite the loudness (the only bad point).

435 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225

Animal on Urbanspoon

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