Gjelina must be French for “ugh.” What a frustratingly disappointing experience.
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
Before I get ahead of myself, let me give you a little background on this place. I had many an Angeleno foodie highly recommend Gjelina to me as a “YOU MUST GO NOW” restaurant. I would try to go, and could never get a reservation when I wanted one. Two weeks in advance for a weekend rez and you’re telling me you only have a 10:30pm slot open? Ugh.
A few months ago (yes, this is how behind I am in posting this), I SHOCKINGLY got an 8:30pm reservation for 2 on a Sunday night having called just a week before. As a last-cousin-date-before-she-up-and-left-me-for-the-balmy-weather-and-palm-trees-of-Hawaii, we were stoked to go.
The interior is a little bit industrial meets Anthropologie meets DARK CAVERNOUS ABYSS (seriously, I’d like even a tiny sliver of light to see wtf I’m eating).
The food was everything everyone raved about.
The crispy pork was juicy. Sorry the photo is from a sad takeout box. You can thank Gjelina for never bringing this plated to our table because they FORGOT, even after we reminded them and patiently waited forever for this. Ugh.
Though each dish ranged from above average to incredible and mouth-watering, the service (or lack thereof) left us with a sour aftertaste. I was a much less perturbed person happily eating my boxed crispy pork on my couch not having to wait for passive and snobbish wait staff to bring me a damn glass of water.
Our waiter was pleasant enough in the beginning. He came by, poured our tiny glasses of water and took our order. Buuuut that was pretty much the last we ever saw of him. Ugh.
We got two of our plates in a fairly reasonable amount of time (picky sidebar: the pacing was all off) but we awkwardly waited much longer for the main dish (the rabbit) and then waited even more (surprise!) for the crispy pork, which we had to ask three different waiters for. Ugh.
Finally, after patiently twiddling our thumbs for well over 30 minutes for the final dish, we finally see our waiter emerge from the aforementioned dark cavernous abyss. We reminded him that we were still waiting on our pork dish, to which he replied “you never got it?” No sh*t, Sherlock. So after this reminder (mind you, this is the third member of the Gjelina staff we asked), we had to wait yet again for the kitchen to actually prepare the dish, as the order was never passed along. At this point, we’d been there for about 2 hours now, so we just asked for the pork to be boxed up. Sad face (and another ugh).
Overall, the staff seemed completely apathetic to their complete dismissal of “service” and lack of simple common courtesy. We begrudgingly left a tip, albeit small but proportional to the service we received (because as much of an a-hole our waiter was, I still believe in karma).
The next morning, I attempted to follow up with any semblance of a superior at the establishment. A woman answered and took my name and number down for a manager to call me back. The conversation continued as follows:
Apathetic Gjelina Woman: May I ask what this is regarding?
Me: (I SHOULD have replied “nunya biznass”) My meal I had there last night.
AGW: Was it bad?
AGW: OK, I’ll pass along your information to our manager.
I wish this story ended with someone from Gjelina calling me and profusely apologizing and offering to personally invite me and 50 of my closest friends back for a dinner to make good for their failures (or at the very least comp my all too pricey meal…or even a friggin apology?!) but sadly, none was the case. My story ends all too anti-climatically with NO RESPONSE from the passive, pretentious buttheads at the Venice restaurant. Ugh.
They get a half cupcake ONLY because the food was really good.
PS-I’m not alone in my horrific experiences with Gjelina. Hell’s Kitchen star (and chef-lebrity crush of mine) Gordon Ramsay also had a little run-in with some heartless service.
PPS-total Ugh count for this restaurant? 6. Guys, that’s 6 too many for ANYONE. Unacceptable.