Brunch at Gjelina: Experiencing the Mr. Hyde Side

— by Caroline on Crack

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Have you ever given someone a compliment and then wished you could take it back because they turned out to be an a-hole? Well that’s how I feel about Gjelina in Venice. I LOVED having dinner there, that scrumptious flat bread pizza! But when I had brunch there this past weekend with bloggers Active Foodie (Sonja) and LA OC Foodventures (H.C.) the experience was bad enough to make me question my own previous judgment.

Was I blinded by the truffle oil, grilled nectarines and butterscotch pot de creme to not have been able to notice all the attitude? Yes, during this round on a Saturday morning, there was attitude from the hostess and our server.

Let’s start at the beginning. This brunch was supposed to be a post-Nike Human Race event when I had organized my own run with my blogger friends. So when I had made the reservation a month ago it was for eight people. But when we all decided to do the run at USC on Friday night instead, many in the group wanted to sleep in the next day so our group dwindled down to four.

I called the restaurant to let them know. But they said they only took reservations for parties of six or more but that we would be able to secure a table since we were planning to arrive when they opened at 10:30. Fair enough.

However, when H.C. and I arrived first and asked to be sat at the nice table for four in the corner instead of the ratty rusted table by the door, the hostess said that the table was reserved. Wait a minute. I thought they only took reservations for parties of six or more? Perhaps they were going to cram in an extra two chairs when the diners arrived?

Nope. Sure enough it was just a party of four. WTF? Am I missing something?
Oh, I’m forgetting to add that when I had asked if we could get that corner table and was denied, the hostess also made a point to tell me she wasn’t supposed to seat us right at that moment anyway since they didn’t have their menus printed yet. Um, but there were other people sitting down. Hm. And it would have been nice if she had instead said, “But feel free to have a seat and enjoy our breakfast cocktails or coffee.”

So as H.C. and I waited for the rest of our party to arrive, we also waited for the server to come by to take our drink orders. We waited and waited. FINALLY he comes by, sporting his fedora and the matching attitude. No smile and I think he even sighed. OK maybe I just imagined that. But it was a pretty joyless exchange.

And the rest our experience at Gjelina went on in that same yucky manner.

  • The people who got sat after us got their order in and their food before us. Is it cuz they’re older and looked like they had money?

  • The server rarely checked on us. Good thing there were bussers who made sure we had water and cleared our empty plates.

  • Upon the server’s recommendation, had the beer breakfast cocktail — ginger lime pilsner — which H.C. very astutely described tasting like a Corona with lime. Meh, twas OK. Other not-so-tasty-sounding cocktails included the “Bloody Beer” — a Bloody Mary with beer — and the Calimucho which was described as sangria with Coke.

  • My order of Maitake mushroom, roasted asparagus, poached eggs and parmesan breadcrumb sounded better than it tasted. It was OK but it definitely was not OMG delicious like that mushroom flatbread pizza was.

Yes, even though we got to enjoy the outdoor patio and the order of charred brussel sprouts was scrumptious, oh, and there was a Hobbit reunion (Dominic Monahan and Elijah Wood) in the nearby private lounge, that wasn’t enough to save the overall experience.

And it wasn’t just me left feeling icky by this brunch that I had such high hopes for. My companions all felt the same. “Who knew that Venice could have attitude?” Sonja shrugged. Indeed.

Yeah, even though I will always hold a special place in my heart for Gjelina’s flatbread pizzas, I may not come back here for brunch ever again. However, with ever-present lines on weekend mornings and fans like Gwynnie and J Gold, not to mention the Hobbits, why would you listen to little ol’ me?

Other Gjelina brunch experiences:

My Last Bite

Diana Takes a Bite