This Week's Restaurant Review: Girasol in Studio City
Hamachi with citrus at Girasol.
Chef: CJ Jacobson is best known as a Top Chef contestant, having appeared in both seasons three and ten. In between, he was chef at the (now closed) Santa Monica gastropub The Yard. He also landed a coveted internship at Noma, René Redzepi's modernist Nordic restaurant in Copenhagen, often cited as the best restaurant in the world.
Food: The food Jacobson is putting out can best be described as modern Californian with hints of Noma. You can see the artistic, nature-driven Nordic influence in the plating of certain things, especially cold dishes. Salads are stunningly beautiful, and Jacobson manages to take something as played out as a beet and goat cheese combination and refresh it, turn it into something vibrant and fascinating. But there are cooking errors as well, particularly with proteins, which can be overcooked or dried out.
Drinks: Fairly small but smart wine list, mainly domestic but with French, Italian and Spanish picks where you might expect them. This isn't a wine geek's list, but you should be able to find something to fit the food. Beer. No cocktails.
Decor: From the review: "The name means 'sunflower' in Spanish, and the space has a masculine floral theme, if such a thing is possible: huge, white petal-like elements cover the ceiling and walls, backed by slate-gray textured tiles. A soundtrack of vague electronica plays in the dining room, giving everything that smooth throwback vibe, like a bracing pink cocktail circa 2003."
Takeaway: 2 stars (good). There are some fantastic dishes on this menu, and there's no doubt the neighborhood needed something along these lines. If Jacobson can work out his cooking issues, this place will become a destination.
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