Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Places To Eat In Los Angeles: Gjelina, Abbot Kinney Boulevard

My birthday lunch: testing yet another hyped about restaurant on Venice's fashionable Abbot Kinney Boulevard, discovering yet another new favourite Los Angeles eatery. I'd been saving a trip to Gjelina for a special occasion, and what better than becoming another year older? That is something to celebrate in style until I at least hit thirty, perhaps forty. But that is years off! I'd heard so much about Gjelina's fabulous food and lovely atmosphere  and unlike some other meals I've had over the last few days, it lived up to the hype.
While there is a dark, smokey and cool interior, we were seated out in the courtyard which suited us perfectly as it was such a beautiful day; it had a much more Mediterranean vibe than the interior. It also had great people watching and outfit coveting. I was jealous of the lovely Kate Spade dress on the woman behind me.
I know all the wine snobs out there tend to turn their nose up at rose, and only stick to red or white varieties, but for me, with good fresh food with bold flavours, in the sunshine nothing for me beats a nice chilled glass of French Cote de Provence. This glass made me miss France, where I may or may not drink it like water.
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Given the option on most menus I will always order the mussels. These are the PEI Mussels with Chorizo, Confit Tomato, Chili, White Wine and Grilled Bread. I'll talk about the mussels in a moment, but I loved the fact my bread was lightly brushed in olive oil and grilled; it gave such a different Mediterranean change to the plain French bread I usually use to soak my my moules juices. As for the mussels themselves, while I wish there could have been more of them (or am I just spoilt in France?) they were deliciously cooked with a really good balance of flavours. I was also pleasantly surprised it was chorizo sausage cooked from raw rather than cured meat; this is a dish I would order again on a hot  weekday sitting out in the courtyard and a cold drink.
Evie had the Broccolini with Garlic, Chilli and Vinegar. She let me eat quite a bit of it, for which I was very grateful. Sweet, light, tender but with the perfect amount of bite I loved the fantastically tart and slightly spicy dressing and slightly charred bits on the broccolini; something that I will be ordering on the side to share on my next visit. This is coming from someone who usually hates things like broccolini. I've found it is all about how a vegetable is cooked. You won't catch me eating cauliflower, though!
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This blogs traditional post mussel consumption photo. For newer readers who don't get the joke, as mussels are my all time favourite food and they are one of the local dishes of the region in France I live in, I order them there pretty much all the time. Also when I'm in France and slightly more switched off from blogging mode, pretty much all the time I also forget to photograph them until after I've eaten them, so my readers have been treated to photos of big bowls of empty mussel shells in French restaurants  pretty much all the time!
For dessert I chose the Butterscotch Pudding served with a dollop of Creme Fraiche and Salted Caramel. It was lovely, right, creamy and indulgent; I just perhaps would have liked more salt on the salted caramel but I think that is something to do with personal taste. Obviously the candle is not usually included, unless it is your birthday of course! I promise the rest of their desserts don't come to the table in flame!
Evie ordered the Banana and Chocolate Bread Pudding with Fresh Cream and Caramel. I can confirm from sticking my spoon in that it was just as delicious as my Butterscotch Pudding. It looks it, doesn't it!

A few days later I also ate at Axe on Abbot Kinney, so look out for a review of that in the next few weeks. If you can't get a table at Gjelina and you're still looking to dine in the area, after this one (with the exception of Axe) we had some rather disappointing meals in LA, but we kept on talking about and comparing the meals to what we had had when we brunched at The Tasting Kitchen last time she visited, so I'd recommend heading there for their French Toast and cocktails.


  1. This might horrify you but I've never actually tried mussels, haha. I'm not a big seafood fan! But your desserts sound amazing, especially the butterscotch pudding - I love caramel.

  2. I'm not a big fan of Mussels usually, but these actually look really tasty. I love your reviews, even though the likelihood of me being in LA is just about nil. Classic food porn!

  3. While I adore oysters i've never got around to trying mussels even though i'm a major seafood fan. I think i'll have to try them sometime. That birthday pudding is cute!

  4. You should - I know I'm bias as they are my favourite food, but they are pretty awesome!

  5. You never know! Come July I'll be back to writing London reviews - I hope that will be a little bit more accessible for you!

  6. I am of the belief that you should try everything once! Done properly they don't really tast fishy so you should given them a go; luckily as they are small they are the sort of thing next time you are dining with someone who orders them you can ask to try one. I told myself I did not like them for years without actually trying them, and that is how my best friend finally got me to try one!

  7. Please don't take it as a criticism; it takes the temptation away of spending money I don't have on food. Instead, I read and enjoy, drool over the pictures and cook something slightly more exciting for dinner than usual. So you're doing me a favour, really.

  8. No I totally get you! Aside from my borderline ridiculous consumption of cookbooks, food blogs and foodie magazines some of my best recipe ideas and inspirations come from things I have eaten in restaurants or seen in other peoples restaurant reviews! My mother has already emailed me to say we must try and recreate the brocccolini the next time I'm home!

  9. Happy belated! Sorry I didn't wish you a happy birthday on time—my internet in DC over break was horrifically slow. This place looks absolutely amazing. Mussels are one of my favourite things ever as well. Your food/restaurant reviews so far in LA has been divine.

  10. Happy birthday - and well done for managing to order a glass of wine. How did you get round being 'carded'? Maybe they're not so strict about underage drinking in CA. 21 seems terribly late to be allowed alcohol - compared with the rest of the world!

  11. I drink rose wine all the time and never feel bad about it. Looks like a great birthday meal!


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  13. Looks delicious! With all your advice I'm so eager to go on holiday!xx