During our visit to California this Summer, we were excited to find out that recent and returning Top Chef contestant CJ Jacobson had just opened a restaurant minutes away from where we were staying. We booked our reservation asap…
We arrived with friends at Girasol in Studio City on a warm Friday evening. The place was packed and it was loud. Our seating was a little awkward…right behind the hostess counter…but we were just happy to be seated right away. The place is a lot smaller than we expected, which along with the crowd and the (loud) music playing in the background, made it difficult to converse with friends. Oh well…typical on a Friday night. The décor is beautiful, especially the elegant but earthy designs on the ceiling. The vibe is very chic, trendy and romantic. We all agreed we felt very much like we were dining at an expensive Sunset Blvd. restaurant, or even South Beach, FL. Ironically though, the location of the restaurant is very unexpected. Located on Moorpark Street near Laurel Canyon, you’re close enough to the busy Ventura Blvd. night life without having to deal with the crazy traffic and parking… though the restaurant offers valet.
We had not researched the menu at all, which is primarily because you still cannot find it on the website. We also learned that the menu changes frequently, as Girasol bases many of its ingredients and dishes on what is available at the local farmer’s market. However, reviews since the restaurant’s Grand Opening on July 1st have been very positive. Our expectations were high. After all, CJ was a definite fan favorite in the latest season of Top Chef. Glancing at the menu, we first noticed its simplicity….and several seafood dishes. As expected, prices are a little high and portions are generally small. We were hoping for a little more variety, but luckily our party of four each found something to suit their preferences.
Here’s what we ordered:
As you can see, one of our friends ordered the Swordfish…a favorite among the online reviewers. Glancing around the restaurant, several other people had read the same reviews. However, he concluded that while it was good, he was hoping for wonderful. We took his word and passed on it. Just can’t eat an animal that’s still whole. lol. The rest of the dishes were very good. We did notice a lot of lemon flavors in just about all of them….which we didn’t mind at all. The wine selection is a little limited, (not always a bad thing), but contains some great CA wines. We ordered a bottle of the “Josh” Cabernet by Joseph Carr from the North Coast at $37. A complex cab with lots of berry flavors, a touch of spice and a bit of oak. Our friends had a glass of the Monetto Prosecco from Italy at $9. At the time of our visit the restaurant was still waiting for a full liquor license.
Toward the end of the night, as the place emptied out, it was much easier to enjoy some conversation and relax. To our delight, it was also much easier to catch a glimpse of the Top Chef. Though he had been slammed in the kitchen all night, CJ made it a point to greet customers and even pose for pictures. TY!
If you’re a fan of fine dining, fresh ingredients, and/or celebrity chefs, we highly recommend you check out Girasol.
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