Girasol means “sunflower” in Spanish, but even if your language skills here are lacking, surely you will understand the motif of this Studio City restaurant simply by walking through the door: Bright sunflowers sit pretty in a vase next to the hostess, and white petals sweep the ceiling and down the gray walls, as if like you’re sitting in the flower itself. Yes, it’s a little avant-garde, but then again, so is the intention behind the food. The restaurant describes itself as “rustic-refined,” which roughly translates to California farm-to-table by way of Copenhagen. (Chef C.J. Jacobsen stints at the famed Noma.) The resulting menu is somewhat restrained in that it seems to split the difference between Jacobsen’s cooking experiences, offering some very familiar dishes and others relatively more challenging: You have, for example, a perfectly fine but routine roasted citrus chicken ($20) versus a more interesting, albeit more heady, charred pork belly with wild apples and earthy mushrooms ($24). No matter what side of the menu you’'re on, though, there are a few missteps: Undercooked carrots and potatoes accompanied the chicken, and an appetizer of beets and berries ($13) sounded great in theory, but, as no one ingredient was stellar on its own, it was a somewhat disparate and unbalanced overall. While a promising neighborhood addition that, we hope, needs only the time and the confidence to fully bloom.
Eat this: As is the case with any farm-to-table restaurant, the menu will change according to season; that said, the mussels in a pleasantly tart aguachile ($17) were perfect for sharing. Those who love dessert will be more than satisfied with the warm buttermilk doughnut holes dusted with sugar and served with sweet strawberries and a pistachio coulis ($8).
Drink this: At the moment, the restaurant serves beer and wine only, so expect to five or so bottled beers, and a short list of red, white and sparkling wines.
Sit here: There are a handful of tables in the patio area of the restaurant, so sit there to take advantage of these summery autumn nights. Otherwise, the dining room offers a full view of the restaurant’s sweeping sunflower-themed interior.
Conversation piece: You may recognize chef C.J. Jacobsen from Top Chef's seasons 3 and 10 of the Bravo series.