Want to make a grown woman blush? Suggest that the reason she wants to go to Gjelina, the serene patio restaurant on Abbot Kinney, is because she wants to gaze deeply into a scruffy waiter's eyes. She will object, of course, claiming that what she wants is the Cavaillon melon with lightly grilled squid, or the wild arugula with sheep cheese and corn, or the cilantro-pork sausage, charred black in the wood-burning oven and served disconcertingly rare, with lentils and a tingly fig mostarda.

If she has her yogini on speed dial (and let's face it, almost everyone in this part of town does), she may hold forth on the smoky grilled king mushrooms with butter and coarse salt, or the roast cauliflower with garlic, or the fairly incredible dish of juicy roast turnips laced with bits of black, served with their own braised foliage and a bitter, bracing shot of chimichurri. And she will be telling the truth, kind of, even when she starts to go on about the firepit, and the duck confit with pear and chicory, and the crisp, little pizzas with lamb sausage and broccoli rabe or with fontina, bacon and burnt radicchio. But her cheeks will have started to redden. And she buries her head in a magazine. And when you get to the restaurant, and plop down by the firepit, and realize that the people in the pretty patio look less like Westsiders than like better-looking actors hired to play Westsiders on TV, you will understand.

If it is all just too much for you, and I'm betting it won't be, you can always grab an egg sandwich or a squash-blossom pizza from the newish Gjelina Take Away next door.

LA Weekly