Friday, November 13, 2015

review - Gasolina

Gasolina Cafe
(818) 914-4033/21014 Ventura Blvd./Woodland Hills, CA 
Open Daily 8am-4pm

Looking for something different in your choice of restaurants that is simultaneously healthy and delectable? You need look no further than Gasolina Cafe in Woodland Hills. Gasolina, under the ownership of chef Sandra Cordero, opened a mere eight months ago and is already boasting quite a fan following. Give them what they want and they will come is indeed a true saying. It's a small and narrow place with seating at a few tables in front and on an outdoor patio, reminding you of a typically pleasant European cafe. 
On hand to greet me and my friend Jim on Friday the 13th - it was my lucky day! - was striking Chef Cordero - cordero in English means lamb - and the name truly fits, for she is as sweet as a lamb. She made us feel right at home as if she were cooking for us in her own home. If you know the Spanish, mi casa es su casa. Cordero is half Spanish and half Dutch. Sandra grew up a farm girl in Galicia, Spain, appreciating olive oil and the use of farm fresh eggs and other pure ingredients. She started cooking at an early age, so it is no wonder that she now possesses expert knowledge like how to whip up delicious lamb balls, papas bravas and empanadas with a flaky crust. You have to aim to please everyone, so this empanada's crust is a slight variation on the one you’re used to.

Cordero and her Kentucky born hubbie ride motorcycles as a hobby, and she somehow wanted to incorporate this biker enthusiasm into her very first voila...Gasolina. Stop in and fuel up is their slogan. Gasolina is open daily from 8 am to 4 pm serving unusually prepared breakfast and lunch. Sara presented us with a menu and then asked our preferences, bringing shortly thereafter about three selections each. I started off with homemade mint lemonade; my friend had a fresh watermelon juice. The lemonade is a real tart treat as opposed to the sugary ones I've been accustomed to. Next up came our first entree. I had patatas bravas which are similar to home fries on a plate with chorizo, serrano ham, aioli, brava sauce and a sunny side up egg on top. If you have never tasted papas bravas, they are crunchy on the outside with all the rich chewy potato goodness on the inside.  Jim had the garlicy shrimp scramble with shrimp, egg, garlic laced with fresh asparagus and toast.
We sampled each other's; the taste was divine, not overly spicy; everything blended together just right. Next up came the house cured salmon sandwich with beet cured salmon, herbed crema, cucumber and watercress. For me, the piece de resistance was the cordero lamb burger served with avocado, lettuce, cucumber relish, romesco sauce and aioli. I love lamb, and this was so juicy with the avocado and sauces giving it that extra zing.

For dessert there was a precious chocolate mousse with berries. Jim and I shared the churros con chocolate, a long time latino favorite. The churros are laced with sugar and come warm and scrumptious. Gasolina is particularly proud of their shop blend coffee, so both of us sampled a wonderful cappuccino with our desserts.

Also on the menu to whet your appetite are lentil stew, as well as great salads like chicken and baby kale, shrimp and avocado... and pulpo gallego salad with octopus a la plancha. They serve Spanish style toast as well. Sandra explained that she imports all her cheese from Spain and that they "source local farms, serve good quality ingredients, use organic milk and local cage free eggs and chicken. We operate a scratch kitchen where everything is made in house and to order." All egg dishes, sandwiches and salads range in price from $10-$16.

So with such fresh healthy food at moderate prices and served with a smile by Sandra herself, who could ask for anything more? Everything es muy sabroso. Stop by any day from 8 am to 4pm and fuel up!

owner.chef Sandra Cordero