7/18/2013 02:50:00 PM

Best Thing We Ate: Whole Fried Fish at Girasol

Although he was biding time sprucing up the menus at Mercantile in Hollywood, CJ Jacobson was really just waiting for his new restaurant to be ready. And a few weeks ago, Girasol opened in the former 8 1/2 Taverna space, sort of an odd location on Moorpark on the border of North Hollywood and Studio City, where the tallest Top Chef contestant is cooking up global eats with seasonal flair and hints of his Noma stage. That means you'll get things like fava bean purée with housemade chorizo, bright cherry tomatoes and warm flat bread; grilled octopus with long-roasted eggplant and toasted lovage; and beautiful ribbons of fresh raw summer squashes with fresh green garbanzo beans. It's the kind of food you don't see in the Valley too often, but people in the neighborhood are clamoring for it. It's good enough to seek out, too, especially for things like the whole crispy fried fish that's quickly becoming a standout dish.

The menu says it's red snapper, but apparently there was a snapper snafu and Jacobson used sea bream instead. Not that we mind. Sea bream is another great white fish, although we've almost always seen it grilled whole vs. fried. But it fried up perfectly - the flesh was super moist and tender, and the skin melted right into the crispy coating. It's not the prettiest thing to look at, but who cares. The fried greens underneath and the side of kumquat-sorrel-citrus sauce really made the dish as well.

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