Abbot Kinney Blvd. is a thoroughfare, man. Even accounting for the extent to which I’m inordinately impressed by almost everything out here, one could comfortably spend a whole day walking up and down it, inhaling its relaxed, retail/residential vibe, trying and failing to put into words precisely what it is that makes it feel so fucking cool to me. It represents a lifestyle, I guess. One to which there appears very little urgency but that, at the same time, inspires you to get busy living. Creating. And realising some goals. I’d love to feel as passionately about my high street.
Gjelina is at the corner with Milwood Avenue. Anthracite and angular on the outside, inside it’s utilitarian but with texture, functional but with lots of flourishes. It’s Monday and it’s humming. I’d been told to expect indifference from the hostesses but they were fine. Brisk but cordial, they advised us a wait of up to 30 minutes was likely before space would become available, and that it’d be at one of two communal tables that splay from the room’s island bar. As it turned out we were seated in barely 10, and at our own, but not before being furnished with drinks – a Bordeaux blend from Washington State’s Gilbert Cellars, and a Stone Brewing Co. Ruination IPA.
The menu’s a knockout. An object lesson in sourcing, there was loads about the largely vegetarian card to distract even the most rapacious carnivore. I’m an open-minded mutha, but the irregularity with which I eat out these days ( in the UK, anyway…) means that, given the option, I’ll more often than not regress to red meat. Such an obviously considered, cosmopolitan card as this though, is a real credit to the farmer’s market sensibilities of its creators. I could have pinned the tail on the donkey and been as unreservedly pleased with whatever I wound up with. Our approach was more measured than that of course, and the fact that what I ultimately wound up with was Meatballs, and then pizza with salami, is entirely incidental. K and I also shared a Tuscan Kale salad with shaved fennel, radish and ricotta, and the Squash Blossom pizza; a Cherry Tomato, Zucchini, Burrata and Parmesan number. I left thinking if only there were more high-end, accessibly priced places that could so effortlessly make green stuff look good, the healthier, more balanced diet I’d have, and the happier I’d be about the apparent need to pour pint after pint of IPA down after it.
This being LA, and Venice’s most boutique boulevard, the crowd at Gjelina was young and typically hip but with mature, well-to-do glimpses that continued to speak volumes as to its far-reaching appeal. And we met a vampire there. A charming Frenchman called Sebastien who played one on a TV show, anyway. Far from raving about a blue Niman Ranch, Flat Iron steak he’d just savaged, however, he was more batty about the Butterscotch Pot de Creme with salted caramel. Proof (in the pudding, of all places) that even bloodsuckers can bite down on something besides flesh and still feel the benefits.
Just the best night, this. I heart LA, and this one’s for you, Malibu xxxxx