My love for brunch knows no bounds – to the point where waking up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning to drive from Hollywood to Gjelina on Abbot Kinney in Venice is well worth the citywide-trek. Known for Chef Travis Lett’s seasonal, impeccably plated, deceptively complex (as Lett has said, he and his team work “really hard to not look like we're working really hard”) menu, I love arriving at Gjelina right as they open in order to avoid the hoards of hungry diners who line up daily on the boulevard, vying for seats from 8:00 to midnight. The warm wood, Edison bulb-illuminated interior embodies the delightfully bohemian tone of Venice (as does its ivy-clad outdoor patio!), and it’s easy to see why this restaurant and GTA -- Gjelina Take Away, located right next door to its sister, sit-down restaurant -- are so beloved. Lett’s finesse is what makes his food exceptional – the lemon buckwheat ricotta pancakes come studded with plump blueberries and crème fraîche, while the duck confit potato hash is crowned with a sunny side up duck egg and grainy mustard. With a menu packed full of charcuterie, vegetables (the likes of wilted ramps, roasted Thumbelina carrots, and grilled king oyster mushrooms), pizzas topped with creatively modern ingredients, and fabulous cocktails and wines by the glass, Gjelina is one of those special places that almost makes me think that moving to the Westside would be worth it.
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