Delicious Spree LA to Z: Gozar
LAist is going on a delicious spree from A to Z. This weekend, we finish up G as we attempt to sober up at Gozar after a few too many at The Abbey a few doors down.
When first we heard of the restaurant Gozar, we thought it was “go, zar.” It never occurred to us that this mostly Spanish tapas restaurant, but with heavy Puerto Rican and Cuban influences, was the Spanish verbo en inglés “to enjoy.” And we studied how many semesters of Spanish?
Gozar is located on the corner of Robertson and Santa Monica Boulevard right on the border between plush Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. The place is built for you to live out its name. Enjoy the fireplace on the back patio, enjoy the backdrop of the Pacific Design Center, enjoy the food and drink, and most importantly, if you’re on the second floor overlooking the bars next door or on the patio out front, enjoy...the eye-candy. Really, passers-by, customers, and staff, all a feast for the eyes.
We took a seat on the front patio, joining the rest of the beautifully buzzed. Gozar has sangria, and the names and descriptions on the menu of some of the martinis and specialty cocktails sounded delicious, but a little too fruity for our taste.
We started easy and ordered peppers with blue cheese and walnuts. When you wear that bold pink floral printed sundress that has hints and tiny splashes of lavendar and turquoise, you might choose to "pick up" the turquoise: accessorize with your big hoop earrings that dangle tiny turqouise stones and wrap a delicate golden thread studded with turquoise and amethyst around your neck. In the same way, the blue cheese "picked up" just the faintest tang in the slippery sweet peppers, and the crunch of the nuts made you notice how soft and delicate the peppers are. The only thing we didn't love was the moat of uneccessary olive oil around the perimeter of the plate.
Empanadas were racked up against each other like triangular dominoes in a shallow puddle of translucent beige sauce. The filled pastries were nothing special, but we did note that they were baked, rather than deep-fried. The pastry was lighter both in color and texture, flaky like puff pastry. The filling was sort of boring and bland, which might explain why we don't remember its components in detail.
We love albóndigas, and was very much looking forward to similarly sensational meatballs that we had at Cobras and Matadors, which were meaty but not dense and hard, flavored with dark smoky spices, and served in a sweet and piquant tomato-based sauce. Gozar's albóndigas were slightly bigger, served in a shallow-sided bowl, also in a tomato-based sauce, but seasoned a bit more like Italian meatballs in marinara sauce rather than Spanish albóndigas. They were soft and delicious, just not quite what we were expecting.
Though we were starting sober up and would have been clear to drive by the time we had walked all the way back to the car, we weren't ready to call it a gorgeous night. We gave in and ordered wine because we were having so much fun sitting there on the patio and gozando the evening, the air, ourselves, the view, the people around us. To go with the wine, we ordered un plato de antojitos. When it came to the table, we realized that this is what we should have ordered first. There were perfect cubes of cheese that were starting to glisten with oil in the warmth of the summer evening's air. There were small piles of olives, dried figs, and enormous ivory almonds that were slightly toasted so that they tasted both nutty and creamy at once.
We weren't exactly sure what to do with the little seafoam green Denny's salad-dressing-on-the-side container in the middle with grainy mustard, but it sure tasted good slathered on what was left of the bread, along with several slices of the three different types of cured meats on the plate. We are going to guess that the one that looked like pepperoni was a dried, cured chorizo; the one that looked like a thicker cut of prosciutto must have been jamón serrano, and I have absolutely no idea what the third one was. It was all very greasy and very deliciously satisfying.
We can't say that Gozar's food was outstanding, or authentic, or creative. That is probably better left to a restaurant like Cobras & Matadors. But we're sure we'd love to go back to Gozar again to "gozar" the whole experience - food and drinks, service and atmosphere, and always and most especially, the company.
8948 Santa Monica Boulevard (@ Robertson)
West Hollywood, CA 90069