Gjusta (Los Angeles, July 2016)

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Gjusta, which opened in Venice in October 2014, is one of the hottest restaurants in Los Angeles but it’s not exactly a restaurant (and its name isn’t on its exterior). What is it then? Some combination of a deli, a bakery, a salad bar and a cafe. In addition to faux-anonymity, it offers that unique contemporary American mix of high prices and lack of comfort: gourmet food from bespoke ingredients with prices to match, but in a space that takes pains to present a non-polished, even rustic appearance.There is limited counter seating inside and a bunch of mismatched tables and chairs are strewn around a roughly covered patio that is connected to the parking lot. Service is minimal. You order and pay at the counter and if you’re sitting outside, as we were, someone will bring you your food but you shouldn’t expect them to check in on you after; if you want water, or cutlery, you get up and go inside and get it yourself.   Continue reading

Schwartz’s (Montreal)

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I was recently in Montreal for a conference for a few days and, as you might expect, eating was high on my agenda when not at panels. I had recommendations from some Canadian foodies, including a couple who know Montreal well, but I didn’t need anyone to tell me to go to my first port of call: Schwartz’s, the iconic Jewish deli that opened in 1928. I say “deli” but by law it’s been “Schwarz’s charcuterie Hébraïque” since 1977. And they’re known primarily for one thing: smoked meat. That is what I was there for and you’d better believe that is what I got. (In fact, I am not sure that I saw anyone there who was eating anything else.) Continue reading