Mark and I tried to go to Gjelina on Abbott Kinney tonight, and when we overheard there was an hour and a half wait, decided to leave Gjelina. We walked down the street to the Tasting Kitchen.
I haven't been to this space since it was the mediocre AK. But in this new incarnation, chef Casey Lane really gets it right. Lane and his crew from Oregon were brought in to implement a temporary restaurant concept: a "tasting kitchen" based on a small, daily-changing, farm-to-table menu incorporating seasonal, local produce. But it looks like they have a hit on their hands, and this place is here to stay. As Jonathan Gold says in his glowing review, the dining room in the Tasting Kitchen is a study in social interaction that just so happens to involve food.
That was especially true for us tonight. The hostess told us there were two seats left at the communal table, and once we sat down we were right across the table from Mark's agent (and friend) Cliff, and his wife Carrie. We had a lovely, social evening at the communal table, sharing a huge cheese and charcuterie platter, bread, amazing aged balsamic vinegar. I ordered the branzino, and for dessert, a crusty, warm apple pie. Carrie and I had a little thrill to see that Larry David was wandering around the bar area looking lost, until he found his little party (two pretty women). Definitely the thrill of my evening was having a "moment" with Larry at the bathroom. I was waiting for the one-seater women's room. He went into the one seater men's room. When he came out a guy asked him if it was safe to enter, and he looked at all of us standing there, and in pure "Curb" form he assured us it was the safest men's room to enter in all of Los Angeles. I wanted to ask him if he had a square to spare but I resisted temptation.