perhaps typifies the upscale, casual and trendy scene that has arrived on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. It's the kind of restaurant where you expect to be able to order a cheese plate, but Gjelina's artisanal version is in a class by itself.
The Mediterranean restaurant's kitchen is run by Travis Lett, a talented young chef whose dishes include smoked salmon scramble at brunch and braised lamb shank with mint-pistachio pesto in the evenings.
Whether in the sprawling indoor area with fine wood and chandeliers sprinkled around, or the outdoor patio, with quaint furniture that welcomes a more casual atmosphere, the appetizer that cannot be missed (even through frequent changes) is the artisanal cheese plate.
Artisanal Cheese Plate: Gruyere cheese, blue cheese, ricotta and gorgonzola with honeycomb, a sprinkling of olives, almonds (rotating seasonally), membrillo and miniature toast.
First impressions: The artisanal cheese plate seems to change for the better every time. This most recent version has a blue cheese that was sorely missed on earlier visits. The membrillo jelly looks like melted gummy bears, but tastes much more fruity and pleasant, and the honeycomb was sugary bliss.
Taste vs. Texture: Each cheese was distinct. From the sharp, yellow Gruyere to the softer, milder gorgonzola, both went very well with a sweet bite into the membrillo. The tiny toasts weren't needed to balance out the flavor, but made for a nice little crunch.
Overall: Cheese plates are a contemporary norm, but Gjelina's addition of membrillo works to make the offering a little more unexpected. The cheese selection is worth the splurge. Be sure to come hungry.
Visit Gjelina at 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310-450-1429. Mon-Fri, 11:30 a.m.-midnight; Sat-Sun, 9 a.m.-midnight.