Have you ever driven by an interesting-looking restaurant on a regular basis and never frequented it? For me, I’m embarrassed to say that experience is Gabi James in the Riviera Village area of Redondo Beach. My wife and I recently dined there for dinner for the first time.
Gabi James is named after the owners, Sara Gabriele, (Gabi) and spouse Adam James Aro. Both are experts in the restaurant industry, Gabriele learning from father Guy Gabriele, Cafe Pierre, and Aro managing two South Bay restaurants, Rock N Fish and Mediterraneo. The pair formerly owned and operated Zazou, a restaurant with a blend of European cuisines.
The interior of Gabi James is modern, clean and inviting with sage green walls, amber neon lights, and stylish comfortable seating. The design is both pleasing to the eye and comfortable. The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating and is large enough to accommodate a sizeable group.
The menu is a mix of Spanish and French coastal cuisine with a few Mediterranean choices such as housemade Lamb Merguez sausage and Mixta Tunisien. Their plates are meant to be shared with small, medium, large dishes, salads, and sides. The menu includes classic Spanish tapas such as Tortilla Espanola and Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp).
The Citrus Quince Salad was a pleasant surprise. The sweet gem lettuce was Farmers’s Market quality and had a nice crunchy texture. The combination of quince paste, Marcona almonds, manchego cheese, and a lemon vinaigrette made this salad quite tasty and refreshing.
Fresh yellowtail is sliced wafer-thin and used as a base for their Tuna Crudo. It is topped with fried garlic, red pepper flakes, and a beet purée. These flavors gave it an interesting blend of nutty, slightly spicy and slightly sweet. I enjoyed the biting on the crunchy garlic as I ate each piece.
Their Tortilla Espanola doesn’t spend time in the oven and instead is simmered in a high sided sauce plan for 2.5 hours. The end result is moister and lighter than other tortilla espanolas, I’ve experienced. It is drizzled with a delicious sherry vinegar aioli.
We transitioned from medium to large items on the menu with the Saffron Scallops. The large diver scallops had a nice seared edge and were perfectly cooked. They were surrounded by a creamy smooth mascarpone-potato purée and a saffron white wine sauce. I wish I had a spatula to scrape the plate clean!
Gabi James is well known for their gin and tonics and we began the evening with a Gabi James G & T and a Beach Cruiser gin and tonic. Both were very good with the Beach Cruiser being sweeter and fruitier. The appearance of both drinks gave them a “beachy” feel.
Gabrielle, a level 2 sommelier has created a sizeable and unique wine list. While most are French and Spanish, wines from California, Oregon, and Washington are also included. Their tempranillo was full-bodied with a smooth finish. My wife’s Garnacha was a lighter red that paired well with our food selections. The winemaker of the Garnacha is a relative of Gabrielle that lives in Spain.
Gabi James creates innovative offerings based on classic Spanish and French dishes. Their bar equally matches the quality of the food and I’m surprised that it doesn’t draw much attention outside of the South Bay. With comfortable seating, this restaurant is an ideal date night venue or a place for quality food and conversation.