Ever since opening in 2008, Gjelina has been a favorite among LA foodies. The Venice restaurant with a penchant for organic, local produce, and simple, almost rustic compositions, has taken everyone by storm. Even before we arrived in LA, I therefore made a table reservation.
The reservation was at 21:30, but we already came at 21:00, hoping that our table would be ready a little earlier. As we approached the restaurant, the first thing we saw was a long line of people without reservations, so getting our table early wasn’t really an option. Instead, we took a walk down Abbot Kinney Blvd, which is one of the nicest streets in Venice with lots of cafes, restaurants and bars.
At 21:29 we were back again, and we were immediately shown to our table. During the following few seconds, we both got the menu and a bottle of water and two glasses. A friendly waiter explained to us that most of the food at Gjelina is served as “small plates,” so you order a couple of different dishes for the whole table to share. In the printed menu, it is furthermore stated that “changes and modifications are politely declined”. It may sound a bit harsh, but honestly; how many times haven’t you cringed, when people order tuna salad without tuna or with so many substitutions that they might as well have ordered chicken fajitas?
Thumbs up for a restaurant that dares to put its foot down and stand up for the menu in its original shape. AC immediately fell for the pizza with housemade chorizo, while I was tuned in on the crispy duck confit with figs and sherry. The burrata with grilled peaches and prosciutto, however, was something we both could agree upon. Burrata is a kind of creamy mozzarella and apparently, it is very popular in California. I think Din Tai Fung (the Taiwanese dumpling restaurant) is the only place we have dined in LA, where burrata hasn’t been on the menu.
I’ve never had burrata with peaches before, but it turned out to be an excellent combo. The sweet American peaches matched the salty prosciutto perfectly and the burrata added the final creamy touch that lifted the dish far above the anonymous average. Without a doubt, the night’s undisputed highlight.
AC was also very excited about her wood-fired oven pizza. The chorizo was aromatic and spicy, and the crust light and crispy. My duck confit was large and juicy. Perfectly cooked with lots of crisp, golden skin. The roasted figs in the salad arranged for the sweetness that goes so well with duck. It made me forget everything about the caramelized potatoes and red cabbage, which we usually have with duck in Denmark.
Gjelina is cool! It’s a stylish place with lots of Venice vibe, and despite its über-hip crowd, the service is cordial, friendly and committed. There’s no sucking up, but as a guest, you feel appreciated and welcome. Gjelina is such a place that you’d wish were just around the corner and not a 15-hour flight away, but Gjelina, I’m ready for a long-distance relationship anytime.
Gjelina has long been a favorite among local as well as international foodies, who all swoon over the delicious food based on fresh, organic produce. Most dishes are served as small plates for the table to share, and you will probably need 2-3 dishes per person. Vegetable-sides are $8.
Gjelina is an extremely popular spot, and there is often a long line outside the restaurant, so a table reservation is essential. Gjelina accepts reservations 4 weeks in advance, and if you want a table for the weekend within normal dining hours, it is recommended to book as soon as possible.
The restaurant has a strictly enforced “no substitutions” policy, which means that the dishes are served as described in the menu, so forget about asking for “dressing on the side” or “no onions, please”.
Gjelina is located on super-trendy Abbot Kinney Blvd, which is the place to be in Venice, so arrive early and take a stroll in this vibrant area.
A glass of wine costs around $8, but you can also bring your own bottle for a $20 corkage fee.
During the summer, the most popular tables are the ones on the outside patio.
Gjelina, 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, Los Angeles, Tel: (310) 450-1429