we tried gjelina for the first time over the weekend with an out-of-town friend. we didn't have reservations so the wait was about 45 minutes for the communal table. I hadn't expected it to be packed on a sunday. i loved the rustic feel, the rough-hewn tables, and warm vibe. it was homey but still felt elegant. i appreciate the ever changing menu that seems to celebrate the season. we were seated and about 5 minutes went by before we were greeted. the wine we brought was poured ($25 corkage) and by then we had decided so we placed our order and asked for water.
10 minutes go by, atill no water. our food arrives - beautiful tagliatelle in a silky sauce with artichoke, sausage and peas. a mound of niman ranch steak tartare - must have been 6 oz. there, dressed with capers, mustard, and onion but still letting the flavor of the beef shine through, with a fried egg, arugula and grilled ciabatta on the side, the latter charred in places and shatteringly crisp beneath the creamy yolk and tender meat. duck confit was crispy, fatty, and delicious on a bed of beluga lentils, frisee, and cherries with crunchy pistachios scattered through. a pizza with tomato, anchovy and ricotta was sumptous and salty, but soggy in the center. we did notice other tables' pizzas seemed sturdier than ours. everything was perfectly seasoned.
halfway through our meal and still no water. we asked a busser for some so when the waiter came by to check on the food, we didn't say anything since we thought it was coming. 5 minutes later, we asked the bartender. water arrives with only 2 glasses for the 3 of us. luckily one of us had water during the wait and the glass was still on the table. we polished off pretty much everything. as the busser takes our plates, we ask for more water. he returns and sets a whole new set of glasses down without taking away the others, weird.
lattes with dessert arrive quickly and are textbook perfect, not too hot with thick foam and hunks of raw sugar alongside. the panna cotta with raspberries and amaretti crumbs is light and creamy and austere, wanting a touch more acid. but strawberry rhubarb crisp with vanilla gelato is heaven, with a buttery, crumbly topping in equal proportion to the juicy, tangy fruit. i'm jealous since this is one of my favorites desserts ever and i only got to make it a couple times before rhubarb disappeared from the markets. i don't know where they're getting it but i don't care, it's my midsummer night's dream in it's very own tiny staub baking dish, luscious and tart and vanishing away even though we're stuffed.
the check arrives and wouldn't you know it, we're rung up before we can blink. 30 minutes for water and 30 seconds for a cashout - we know where your priorities are.