I had been dying to try Gjelina, the new Spanish tapas and pizza spot on Abbott Kinney for months. When I thought the newness of it had died down a bit I decided it was time to go. I was unsuccessful in securing a dinner reservation when I called on a Saturday afternoon. My friend and I decided to wait for one of the two communal butcher block tables available to walk-in's. Waiting with wine has never been a problem but we were forced to wait along the eastward facing wall where all of the other waiting diners were as well. Unfortunately, this is the only place there is available to wait inside the restaurant as there is no bar. It was not a pleasant waiting experience and it became unbearably warm not to mention crowded and loud (as S. Irene Virbila had warned in her column). It's really too bad they can't do something in the way of a wine bar area. I would not want to do that again.
We were told we could order wine from a server while we waited against the wall but that took a good half hour to track a server down, they don't come to you. And when we were finally seated, which took a little over an hour, they had forgotten or lost our bottle of Qupe Syrah and it took another twenty minutes to recover. The two glasses we had while we waited for our table were comped which was a relief. When the waiter finally came and took our order we asked them to space out our apps and pizza but it ended up all coming at the same time and very quickly at that. We were really frustrated until our food came. I must say, if the restaurant is lacking at all in space or organization, the food was amazing. We ordered the artichoke appetizer, the braised pork belly and a mushroom and truffle pizza. Now I am a fan of all the Abbott Kinney restaurants and, Joe's aside, there is nothing comparable to the quality of food at Gjelina in the neigborhood. The menu is very small but the ingredients are amazingly fresh and of the highest quality. The pizza almost seems reminiscent of those at Mozza, thin crust with perfect proportions of cheese to toppings and cooked in a wood burning oven. We skipped dessert because after the waiting and dining at a communal table we were too hot and ready to get out of the noise trap.
I would strongly suggest making a reservation at one of the outdoor patio tables if you want to try Gjenlina. The food is so beautiful but securing an outdoor table would be the only way I would go back. I'm sure they will work out more of the kinks in terms of space and service and continue to create some beautiful dishes. It's a nice addition to the neigborhood but just takes some planning in advance for the best possible dining experience.