In the past few years, the farm to table movement has changed the way that we think about our food. Restaurant goers don’t just seek delicious food, they care about where their food is coming from. In Los Angeles many chefs hopped on this train, but it was chef Travis Lett’s Venice restaurant, known as Gjelina, that transformed the foodscape of Los Angeles. Today he has three distinct and unique concept eateries and I tried them all.
The original Abbot Kinney is always crowded and for good reason. Gjelina (pronounced “Jewelina”) serves up American food with California flair on its long communal tables. What Travis Lett can do with the simplest veggies will amaze you. Asparagus is elevated to new heights with romesco and ribbons of Parmesan. The flavors are clean and pronounced. Gjelina also serves pizza with dough made from scratch. My favorite is the mushroom with fontina, with its earthy flavor and an intense truffle aroma. Brunch offers good fare, such as a scrumptious duck confit hash or pork meatballs in a savory red sauce.
Tip: Don’t skip this dessert: the Butterscotch Pot de Crème with salted caramel and crème fraîche. It’s bold and unforgettable.
Gjelina is located at 1429 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA
GTA (Gjelina Take Away)
Just several feet away from the entrance of Gjelina lies its take-out annex. Originally designed for those who couldn’t snag a table at Gjelina, this take-out became a cult hit of its own. The menu is highly seasonal, depending on what’s fresh at the farmer’s market, but you can always count on the pizzas. Smoked meat plates are my go-to on the menu, most especially the smokey, juicy turkey that goes well with any veggie. If it’s in season, try the squash salad with crème fraîche.
Tip: The seating consists of a few milk crates, remember, it’s a take out.
GTA is located at 1427 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA
Gjusta is a stand alone bakery-deli-cafe with a focus on fresh baked breads and sandwiches. Their take on a classic British sausage roll is a delectable smoked lamb sausage and sweet peppers wrapped in a flakey pastry. The croissants are sinfully decadent with fun flavors like baklava. They also cure their own fish-check out the pastrami smoked salmon and classic lox. The sandwiches are not to be ignored: I had the Porchetta Melt with griddled rapini & onions and fontina. The Chicken Parm with pomodoro and burrata is a lighter version of the usually hefty hero.
Tip: Another dessert must-try: Banana chocolate tart or a pavlova with Meyer lemon and blackberry.
Gjusta Bakery, Deli & Cafe is located at 320 Sunset Avenue, Venice, CA