I didn’t have only FTC in mind–it’s a general kind of attitude not unusual among foodies: “Thai/Chinese/whatever shouldn’t be so expensive or isn’t good if it is”. Of course you could say the same about sandwiches and salad.
And interesting to hear that about Jitlada. We haven’t been in over a year but while the service has always been slow we’ve never had anything but very friendly service.
It’s not new, but I never realized you could order the Reuben with turkey instead of pastrami until my friend did so last week. I thought it was delicious, personally. The same thick-cut white and dark meat as the Butcher but with house-made kraut, cheese, and Russian dressing. Yum!
Agree - the turkey seems to complement the Reuben flavors well. The pastrami is more like a deep smokey brisket - maybe a little too dark and intense in flavor for a Reuben - just my opinion…
Could’ve been our server? I think we might have been served once many yrs ago by Jazz (I think that’s the name of the owner). She was very pleasant, and I’ve seen her be very pleasant w/ people who I take to be regulars. W/ other servers, I wouldn’t have been surprised had they simply chucked the food at us, truth be told. I haven’t been recently, though.
Yep. I’m also just not a big fan of the pastrami at Gjusta. It’s sliced thinner than I like and doesn’t have the steamed texture I prefer.
The full writeup of our meal there is now on my blog: https://myannoyingopinions.com/2016/07/12/gjusta/
Herewith the text portion (pictures are on the blog for whoever wants to look):
Gjusta, which opened in Venice in October 2014, is one of the hottest restaurants in Los Angeles but it’s not exactly a restaurant (and its name isn’t on its exterior). What is it then? Some combination of a deli, a bakery, a salad bar and a cafe. In addition to faux-anonymity, it offers that unique contemporary American mix of high prices and lack of comfort: gourmet food from bespoke ingredients with prices to match, but in a space that takes pains to present a non-polished, even rustic appearance.There is limited counter seating inside and a bunch of mismatched tables and chairs strewn around a roughly covered patio that is connected to the parking lot. Service is minimal. You order and pay at the counter and if you’re sitting outside, as we were, someone will bring you your food but you shouldn’t expect them to check in on you after; if you want water, or cutlery, you get up and go inside and get it yourself.
And if the restaurant doesn’t want to proclaim its name on the street, the menu has no fixed cultural identity either: there’s a lot of smoked fish and cured meat, yes, but there’s also banh mi, pozole verde; the bakery features bialys but also hemp nori bread; and so on. Nonetheless, it was ranked #2 in Bon Appetit’s 2015 edition of “America’s Best New Restaurants“, the local press has been strong as well, and it’s already very beloved of the foodie set.
It is also a controversial restaurant (or whatever it is). It is owned by the same people who operate Gjelina on Abbot Kinney (Gjelina is named for the owner’s mother, Gjusta for his aunt) and it has become a flashpoint in the neighbourhood’s discourse over gentrification. Which gentrification, it must be said, is at this point a fait accompli. 16 years ago I lived not very far away from Gjusta, a little further down 3rd Street/Avenue, right on the edge of Santa Monica and Venice and you don’t have to drive around very much in Venice now to get a sense of how changed it is, how much more sleek and shiny. As someone who hasn’t lived in Los Angeles since 2003 it’s not really my place to get exercised about all this and so I will say only that while change is inevitable it is also more welcome if it brings fewer assholes with it. And while good food is always welcome—and Gjusta serves very good food—there’s no denying that the combination of Gjusta’s aesthetic and its prices is a pretty decent allegory of what Venice is now.
If you’re just blowing through town, with no particular sense of place or history, you may not care very much about all of this and may only want to know what the food is like. First, however, you’ll need to know how to find it. It’s actually quite easy: from the beach go up Rose, turn right on 3rd and it is pretty much exactly where 3rd hits Sunset Ave. You’ll see a nondescript white building with a parking lot adjacent: that’s Gjusta. Or follow Google Maps’ directions to Gold’s Gym, walk around to the rear parking lot and it’s across from it on Sunset.
As for what Gjusta looks like and what the food we ate was like, I invite you to “walk” through the slideshow below and then scroll down for my opinion on the matter of where the fuss is merited or if the experience merits the price. (Please excuse the quality of the pictures—I only remembered to reset the white balance of my camera after we were done eating.)
So, what was it like? Well, as you will have seen above, we really liked the food. The porchetta melt was excellent as was the anchovy toast; the bread was consistently excellent across the board. I’m not any sort of expert on smoked fish but I really liked the sardines and gravlax. As far as the flatbread goes, the bread again was excellent, the topping was less of a standout. But, on the whole, very good indeed, and we barely scratched the surface of what they offer. All that said, I was a little taken aback by the total when it was announced to me by the cashier. We paid $70 with tax and tip. Even though the prices for most things were on the menu I hadn’t really been paying close attention and certainly wasn’t expecting to pay $70 for sandwiches, two pieces of flatbread and three small bits of smoked fish. (I should also add that flatbread is not on the menu and must be pretty expensive for us to have gotten up to $58 or so before tax.)
Is $70 too expensive for what this is? That’s a tough question to answer. On the one hand, the ingredients are top-notch and the execution is great. On the other hand, if I pay $70 (and that’s on the low end of what most people’s meals here seem to come to) I generally am not looking to eat a meal centered on sandwiches (however high the quality or however generous the portion) or small bits of smoked fish. And by the $70 mark I’d be fine if somebody got me my water or at least came by with a jug to refill it; I’d certainly like to see my table wiped down before I asked someone to do it. Frankly, even though I’d recommend trying it once if you haven’t been, and especially if you really like this genre (or these genres) of food, I can’t see us going back on our next trip. Even though I’d like to try more of their food, at that price there are many other places I enjoy a lot more.
i think it’s 8 dollars for what’s essentially a slice of pizza.
Three of us split a large smoked fish plate for lunch at Gjusta today, selecting the herb gravlax, salmon belly, pickled herring, smoked trout, and (I think) hamachi. All were quite nice. The rich salmon belly lived up to the high praise, and the pickled herring was a surprise favorite as I’m usually not the biggest fan. The plate of condiments and mixed bread that comes with the dish were the perfect accompaniment. Sparkling cucumber lemonade was tart (in a good way) and refreshing. My brother was overwhelmed by the richness of his porchetta melt, saying he would not order it again. For dessert, I tried Gjusta’s rendition of tres leches cake. It was a miss for me. The cake was heavy on the cinnamon, a pronounced flavor that I’m not used to in tres leches cakes. The cake also had a thin layer of stone fruit in the middle. I wish I had tried the honey cake with figs instead, or their highly recommended carrot cake. More reason to return! Service was excellent.
I love their Smoked Yellowtail and the Salmon Belly. Glad you liked it.
That Cucumber Lemonade sounds awesome (and perfect for a hot summer day). That’s a new drink. Thanks for the tip.
And yes, definitely try their Carrot Cake at least once. So good!
Get the fig wild rice pudding. It is fantastic.
What!!! Gjusta added a Fig Wild Rice Pudding? It already sounds amazing. Sounds like a bunch of new seasonal items. Must stop by soon…
Definitely grab one or three.
Thanks for the rec! I saw the fig wild rice pudding in the case today…I hope they’re still offering it the next time I stop in
Thanks to everyone for your kind suggestions for my husband’s birthday lunch! @A5KOBE suggested Gjusta, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. My husband’s a big fan of their food, but it’s a bit of a splurge - so it was the ideal treat for him. He enjoyed the porchetta melt. @Chowseeker1999 suggested I try the veggie sandwich, and it was utter perfection - from the gorgeous vegetables, to the garlicky hummus, and the expertly grilled bread - so great for a vegetable lover like me. The smoked fish salad was meltingly unctuous and smokey. The eggplant salad seemed to be an Ottolenghi-like riff on caponata, as it had golden raisins, yogurt, and chiles. For dessert, we ordered the carrot and fig cakes, which were both delightfully rustic and not too sweet. Lastly, we had the wake 'n shake smoothie, cafe con leche, and a bracing (but in a good way) sparkling ginger lemonade. The meal set me back $80, but it was worth it for a special occasion. And most importantly, the casual setting was just right for my husband, who doesn’t like being fussed over.
I also bought a maple old fashioned donut for the birthday boy at Primo’s, and the meal was rounded out with pine, cornbread, and red current swirl ice cream from Van Leewen. I was worried that the ice cream was going to taste like Pine Sol, but it had a surprisingly pleasant and subtle pine aftertaste. Needless to say, we were both extremely pleased with our indulgent feast, but are now suffering from food comas.
Our Gjusta feast at home.
This isn’t exactly FTC-worthy, but my family asked me to bring a guava chiffon cake from Angel Maid Bakery (an old Japanese-American standard) to my husband’s birthday party on Sunday. I was surprised by how pretty the decorations were, although my family remarked that the macarons were pretty bland. But my mom and aunties were in guava heaven.
Please ignore the marred surface of the whipped cream, I accidentally dropped the lighter onto the cake. D’oh!!
Hey what about me? I kid i kid. Glad you enjoyed it.
Double d’oh, @PorkyBelly!! You’re talking to a food coma victim at the moment - ach… How could I forget your contributions! Thanks for helping with this splendid birthday lunch.
And Food Talk Central contributors, you’re really wonderful!
Yay, glad you liked it! Their Veggie Sandwich is pretty amazing, right? Not boring at all, and pretty spectacular by any sandwich standards (meat or non-meat).
I’ve never tried Angel Maid Bakery before, how does it compare with Patisserie Chantilly? (I love Pastry Chef Keiko Nojima’s cakes there! So good.)
I can not thank you enough for introducing me to the veggie sandwich, @Chowseeker1999! Every aspect of that sandwich is so well thought out! It’s such a decadent sandwich, even though it’s plant-based.
In my humble opinion, Angel Maid Bakery isn’t in the same league as Patisserie Chantilly. Angel Maid is good at what it does, which is to produce light cakes geared towards the Asian palate, but Patisserie Chantilly has true artistry. Patisserie Chantilly’s black sesame cream puff, chestnut cakes, and panna cotta are some of my favorite desserts in the city. I would say that I wouldn’t go out of my way to go to Angel Maid, but they’re good for normal occasions.
Stopped by Gjusta inspired by all the recommendations for new items.
Most of the dishes we ordered I’ve already described earlier (up top), so I’ll keep it short, but comment on a few noteworthy things.
Sparkling Ginger Lemonade:
As great as ever. Fresh ground Ginger, bracing Lemonade. Great way to start the day.
Fresh Market Salads - Lake Beans, Grilled Shishito Peppers:
Wild Mushroom Flatbread:
Thanks to @MaladyNelson, I was suddenly craving both of the amazing vegan sandwiches (they are just as good as any of the meat selections we order).
This is just as incredible as the last 2 times we’ve ordered it! It starts with their fresh, housemade Country Wheat Bread, then you get the creaminess of the Avocado, the Tomato Confit, Roasted Peppers, crunch of the Pickled Radish, Onions, fresh Sprouts, and their Tahini is SO GOOD! The tastiest Veggie Sandwich I’ve ever had.
Fresh Market Salads:
Tuna Conserva Sandwich:
Smoked Fish Plate (Small) (Smoked Spanish Mackerel, Smoked Salmon Belly, Smoked Sardines):
Sparkling Cucumber Lemonade:
Thanks to @chinchi, we tried their new Sparkling Cucumber Drink. It was fantastic! Refreshing, spring-like notes of fresh ground Cucumber, lightly sweetened with their fresh Lemonade and nice and fizzy.
Fresh Market Salads - Farro Wheat Mediterranean Salad, Roasted Okra & Tomato Salad:
Both were fantastic. The new Farro Wheat Mediterranean Salad was like a Tabbouleh in some ways, but with the nuttiness of the Farro giving it a more pleasing, rounded taste (not as acidic and dominated by Lemon).
Also as good as before. It makes it very hard to choose which of these 2 Vegan sandwiches are better. The Falafel Sandwich has their amazing Sesame Ficelle bread (baked fresh in-house), Tahini and Fermented Chilies and Cucumbers. The Crunch of the Falafel balls are amazing as well.
Country Wild Rice Pudding:
Thanks to @A5KOBE for the tip. We made it in time for their Country Wild Rice Pudding! It is as good as @A5KOBE said it was. Lightly sweet, creamy, and the fresh Figs just complemented each bite. Love their Wild Rice blend as well. Thanks!
320 Sunset Ave.
Venice, CA 90291
Tel: (310) 314-0320