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


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