Studio City: A Flower Named Girasol

Chef Chris "CJ" Jacobson on Top Chef Duels Finale Night

Chef Chris “CJ” Jacobson on Top Chef Duels Finale Night

Girasol opened last year with Chef Chris “CJ” Jacobson at helm. The successful Studio City restaurant explores CJ’s foraged Californian cuisine. I checked it out recently on the last night of Top Chef Duels. Chef CJ was a finalist and would go on to win the season.

Sorrel-pine gimlet

Sorrel-pine gimlet

Due to its bright green color, you can pretend you’re juicing. I’m sure there are healthy vitamins and such from this drink but drink it because it’s good. The drinks at Girasol reflects Chef CJ’s philosophy of freshness and quality of ingredients. They’re designed to also be food-friendly.

Sorrel-Pine Gimlet – St. George Spirits Terroir gin, lime, pine-sorrel syrup

octopus salad

octopus salad

 

The octopus salad combined some of my favorite things including eggplant and octopus. It had a sweet and sour chili dressing that was quite unusual.

Kina-herb daiquiri martini

Kina-herb “Daiquiri” Martini

 

Is it a martini or a daiquiri? As I puzzled over the name, I suppose it’s actually more of a daiquiri even if part of the name is in quotes. Daiquiri- think rum, citrus, sugar. Here we have rum, lime and sugar from the Green Chartreuse. The Kina L’avion is an aperitif that I would use as a vermouth. That could explain tacking on martini then. Despite its cumbersome name, it’s a great drink- especially if you like daiquiris.

 Kina-herb “Daiquiri” Martini – Crusoe rum, Green Chartreuse, Kina L’avion, lime

tomato salad

Coastal Farms cherry tomatoes

 

Chef CJ popped up by with the Costal Farms cherry tomatoes topped with his cactus “ice.” It was really cool to see touches of modernist cooking in this simple dish. For the most part CJ has gotten away from molecular but it can still be used effectively and more importantly, taste good.

peaches and burrata

market peaches and burrata

It was the last of the stone fruit season and the burrata was paired with peaches. The fried lentils gave it a good crunch. I was intrigued by the forest floor vinaigrette. Chef CJ staged at Noma, one of the world’s best restaurants which is built on foraging. I can just seem him now lurking about Southern California looking for unique ingredients to cook with. I’ve always wanted to take a foraging class.

Apple-Walnut Old Fashioned, Ginger-Grapefruit Fix

Apple-Walnut Old Fashioned, Ginger-Grapefruit Fix

 

For a twist on an old fashioned, go with the Apple-walnut old fashioned featuring both rye whiskey and apple brandy. A touch of walnut liqueur gives it some additional warmth.

Despite some heavy hitters in the form of tequila and mezcal, the Ginger-grapefruit fix is very drinkable and would go very well with some of the shared plates.

Apple-Walnut Old Fashioned – Bulleit rye, Germain Robin apple brandy, Kuchan Nocino walnut liqueur

Ginger Grapefruit Fix – plata tequilaDel Maguey Vida mezcal, ginger liqueur, lime, grapefruit

pumpkin with raisins, pom seeds, pumpkin seeds, brown butter

pumpkin with raisins, pomegranate, pumpkin seeds, brown butter

 

We oohed and ahhed as Chef CJ poured the brown butter sauce on top of this pumpkin dish he was working on. It’s so seasonal, it was not on the menu yet. I loved the huge raisins. I also really liked the crunch from the walnuts and pumpkin seeds. The pomegranate seeds gave it a nice lightness to balance out the buttery sauce.

pork satay

marinated and grilled pork satay

 

The pork satay turned out to be one of my favorite dishes. The pork was incredibly tender. I always kind of laugh whenever I saw fennel pollen as part of ingredients list but this actually tasted like something and really added to the dish.

Honey-fennel sparkling sour

Honey-fennel sparkling sour

For a refreshing drink, try the Honey-Lime sparkling sour. It is very balanced and the prosecco gives it a bubbly zip.

Honey-Lime Sparkling Sour – Hangar One vodka, lemon, honey syrup, fennel bitters, prosecco

soft shell crab

crispy soft shell crab

 

I generally will order soft shell crab anytime I see it but have deterred the last few years because some spots use frozen soft shell crab year round. I trusted Chef CJ to only uses seasonal ingredients and was glad to see the crab.

mussels

PEI mussels aguachile

 

I love mussels and was happy these were plump without being too tough. Be sure to sop up the sauce with the tasty grilled bread.

watermelon pisco

watermelon pisco shrub

 

I felt the Watermelon Pisco Shrub needed to be renamed a punch to follow all the other drink naming conventions at Girasol. It’s one of the newer drinks on the menu and the shrub is house-made.

Watermelon Pisco Shrub – Kappa pisco, serrano chile, watermelon, lemon, basil, watermelon-balsamic syrup

smashed potatoes

smashed potatoes

 

Sometimes the simplest things can be the most divine. These buttery, creamy potatoes are where it’s at. Get these and the pork satay and you’re good to go!

The menu does change somewhat frequently but I hope the potatoes stay on forever.

Girasol

11334 Moorpark St., Studio City, CA 91602  — (818) 924-2323

© The Minty  2014