Sunday, 6 November 2011

Mr Muesli Lover brunches in LA







I’d had a doozy of a week. Many meetings, many meals, not enough “down time”. A weekend near Venice beckoned and I needed a brunch fix.

A good friend of mine knew the area and pointed me towards Abbott Kinney - a hip street resurrecting what surely previously was nothing special - and an identified, square rusty-looking building. So far, so intriguing. A few people milled around outside in that very cool, Californian way.

We ventured inside...to Gjelina and what became brunch heaven. Very on-trend, New York style furnishing. Rusty bits here. Exposed bits there. Dark wood drawing the light from the ubiquitous filament lights. Bit unusual, a wonderful sun-drenched courtyard where we were seated. The rickety steel table and chairs weren’t that comfortable but this isn’t a place for slouching, it’s a place to sit tall and proud and enjoy the delights served up. And, boy, what delights.

The drinks menu alone was a brunch revelation. Wine, beers, cocktails by the bucketload. I tried the Ginger Lime (Pilsner, Ginger Syrup, Lime - refreshing) and the Calimocho (Red Wine, Coca-Cola, Citrus - much more pleasant than it sounds, a kinda less saccharine Cherry Coke). The food menu was adventurous and a little reminiscent of St Ali, a favourite back in Clerkenwell, London.

The menu states “changes & modifications politely declined” but I cannot see who would want to modify anything. From oysters to bacon scones to BLT to duck eggs to summer squash to asparagus, this menu had it all for the adventurous bruncher. My choice was the Moroccan baked eggs with merguez, chili, tomato sauce, cilantro and spiced yoghurt ($15). A veritable colour explosion, it was served in a heavy pan. Cooked to perfection it was not too runny yet left enough goo to need the crunchy sourdough to mop up the remains. 

My partners-in-brunch had the Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Soft Scramble ($12). This was one of the more simple dishes and it really came as described. Which, seeing as that had been ordered was exactly what was needed! The soft scramble was just right and the salmon didn’t over power the dish as can often be the case. They also ordered the 4-grain porridge with berries, banana, milk and buckwheat honey ($9). This isn’t really what I want in a brunch but by the state of the clean bowl it seems to have hit the spot for those who ate it.

Last, but certainly not least, we ordered a side of crispy fingerling potatoes with truffle oil, herbs and Parmesan. Holy smoke, this was absolutely terrific. Wonderfully crisp potatoes, the hint of truffle adding to the taste and the crunchy parmesan giving this course the moreish factor. Our waitress told us that they had taken them off the menu but demand had led them to put them back on. I can see why, they are their signature dish for sure. Otherwise the juices and coffees were great, no complaints there but since we ordered simple juices and Americano’s no real revelations either.

If I had to invent my own brunch place then it would resemble Gjelina for food offerings. It is a wonderful, fresh and lively place. Now, how can I swing another trip to LA?

Gjelina is open all day M-F 11:30 - Midnight. Weekends 9:00am - Midnight - Brunch until 3pm.

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