The corner of Moorpark and Bakman in Studio City has been home to many restaurants, none of which could get a following to sustain itself until, quite possibly, now. Top Chef’s CJ Jacobson opened up Girasol last month to mostly great reviews; some issues with perhaps a green waitstaff and lean wine cellar, but let’s chalk that up to growing pains.
Girasol is the Spanish word for sunflower, and the building itself has been transformed into a modern sunflower motif in varying shades of gray. The walls, windows and table design depict abstract sunflower petals, and the food is as welcoming as a sunflower itself. The showstopper is the whole fried snapper sitting proudly on its bed of greens, but my favorites veer to the small plates – the perfectly cooked smoky, sweet and acidic octopus salad, stone fruit salad with burrata and crispy lentils (watch your teeth though, they are really crispy!), and pork satay that has been thinly sliced, marinated, pushed together on a skewer to mimic cubed pieces of meat, then grilled and sauced.
The meatballs are a great go-to for the more traditional eater - moist and lightly packed so they don’t end up feeling like bricks in your belly. The Hamachi is beautifully presented and delicately seasoned so as not to overpower the fish, but if you’re not used to fine French plating, it may seem like you’re missing some food on the large white plate.
And great news for those of you who haven’t read anything you want to try, Chef Jacobson is basing his menu on hyper-seasonal products so in a few weeks you’ll have something completely new to try.
We forgive the missteps at mediocre restaurants because our expectations are lowered, so any nitpicking in this article is simply because at such a high quality level, we’re bound to scrutinize the details. And the details make this restaurant a MUST to visit, even if you do have to get on the 405.
--Article from cbsLA.com/InsideSoCal under "Erica's Picks: Chef Jacobson’s Girasol"
Last year, Vitello’s of Studio City went through a complete facelift, and rightly so. Vitello’s had been plagued with the memory of murder for over a decade when Robert Blake’s wife was shot to death outside the restaurant.
Gone are the dark days! Vitello’s gutted the inside and opened it up for a great indoor/outdoor vibe perfect for late spring, early summer days. Enjoy jazz upstairs and now downstairs on select nights, plus great specials like ½ off wine bottles on Monday, and Wednesday Wine Tastings for $30 which includes appetizers.
The dinner menu has something for everyone, from classic dishes like Lasagna served in the perfect proportion – no big sloppy mess here – to hit-the-spot appetizers like fresh Burrata Caprese and bite-size Eggplant Parmesan Rollatini. If you opt for a fish dish, I highly recommend the Branzino. With a crispy skin on the bottom, almond crusting on top, all over a bed of zucchini tossed with Sicilian pesto, this light dish will actually fill you up.
If you were hoping to sit in the booth where ex-murder suspect Blake ate with his wife that fateful night in 2001, sorry to say the booth was removed to rid the place of bad energy. It was reportedly going on eBay for $1000.
There’s a twist on the taco downtown, and worth every bite. The taco, er, “baco” is a signature flatbread sandwich developed by Chef Josef Centeno, owner of Baco Mercat in downtown Los Angeles. The baco is gourmet comfort food - decadent, warming and delicious. Order the “original” and bite into mouthfuls of pork, beef carnitas, and salbitxada, nestled into a naan-like bread folded over; or go spicy and rich with “el pesco” filled with creamy sriracha coated crispy shrimp.
Baco Mercat’s menu is varied but not overwhelming, lots of simple dishes with complex flavor spanning Western- and Easter-Mediterranean influences. They may be small plates, but about 4 dishes will fill the heartiest appetite. The fried chicken ‘n biscuit, though seemingly odd on this menu, is a great option if you haven’t already had one too many bacos. Caramelized romanesco would convert any child to loving vegetables, and the roasted yams with marshmallow bring out the kid in each of us.
The setting is cozy and few tables, but the high ceilings give it some breathing room and a small patio offers a few more tables. Be prepared to wait or sit at the bar if you don’t have a reservation. The bartenders are tops (and seemingly know it) so order away from the specialty drinks and be prepared to have a culinary drinking experience. Try the “Dutchman” made with bols genever (whiskey-like spirit), ginger syrup, grapefruit, and boston bittahs (citrus and chamomile). It’s refreshing and potent so be glad it’s served in a smaller glass.
Welcome to my blog “About Town” where I scour Los Angeles on a weekly basis to find fun things to do, see, eat, buy, and blog about.
So, why did I start this blog?
There are some things I’m not so great at…dieting, for example, or gardening sadly enough. But what I’ve found to be VERY good at is continually finding exciting new things to do, see, eat, and buy in LA. (The fact that I moved from Hastings, Nebraska to the big city a few years back might explain why I was aching for entertainment!)
Since Los Angeles is a melting pot of people, dining, activities and art, why not start a dialogue for those of you who have similar taste and passions!
Here are things I love and plan to share:
Wine – Why can’t every hour be a happy hour? Yeah, I’m a wino.
Food/Restaurants - Did I mention I was a terrible dieter? Welcome all foodies!
Art exhibits – From LACMA to pop-ups in Silver Lake, eye candy is abound.
Culture - No shortage of that in LA
Music – Love it all! Let’s check out Coachella, Dudamel, Jazz on the Terrace, Concerts on the Pier and more!
Fashion – Fashion week? Let’s go! Sale? I’m in.
Museums - So many Picassos so little time
Travel - SoCal, NorCal, photography trips with my father across the US, and international explorations!
You get the idea. Are you in? Ready to hit the town? Then here we go…
Erica Olsen loves running "about town" In LA and all over the world finding cool restaurants, shops, events, exhibits & more!