Posted on | January 4, 2010 | No Comments
What better way to start off the new year than going to a restaurant I’ve been dying to try, with some great friends? Well that’s exactly how I spent my NYE this year. At Animal! I had a list of dishes that I wanted to try, most of which were on the menu that night.
The restaurant is quite small with a minimalist, somewhat cold but casual interior, and no sign out front. The menu changes daily, but there are several staple dishes that remain a constant on the menu. Chef/owners Jon Shook and Vinnie Dotoli were nominated for a James Beard award for this restaurant, and are amazingly creative. Their love of meat is overly apparent, judging by not only the menu, but the restaurant’s name. The chefs focus on local and organic ingredients, but make no mistake… if you are on a low fat diet, or are a vegetarian, this is definitely not the place for you!
I was a bit nervous about getting there on time, as I’d heard that your entire party has to be there on time or you’re out of luck. And this, after calling weeks in advance, filling out and faxing a form back, and calling and reconfirming a day before, would’ve been a nightmare! Adam joked it sounded like something that could happen in LA Story. Well, no worries, as we all agreed to meet early and have a drink at Canters’ bar a couple of doors down beforehand.
So, onto the food. My best friend & her sister opted to get their own entrees, leaving myself, Adam, and our friend Joe to order the fun stuff, family style. I ordered four appetizers and one entree for the three of us. Here’s what we had:
Poutine: This is pretty much what it looks like… french fries with cheese in an oxtail gravy. Rich, fattening, and incredibly tasty! Then again, just about every dish fit this description!
BBQ pork belly sandwiches: These were like a super rich version of a BBQ pork slider. The pork belly was quite fatty and oily, a bit too much for my liking, but I’m assuming that’s exactly how it was supposed to be. The BBQ sauce was rich, savory, and just sweet enough. Topping the pork was a creamy slaw, which added a nice texture contrast.
Fried pigs ears: Yes, it sounds really gross. Thoughts come to mind of dog chew toys. But this dish is nothing like that! The pigs ears were cut into thin slices about the size of tortilla strips, marinated in a sour and spicy chili lime sauce, and served with a fried egg on top. I never would have thought pigs ears could be so delectable. One of my favorite dishes of the night.
Quail fry: basically a fried quail with grits, bacon & chard, covered in a maple gravy. The quail tasted like a really good, miniature fried chicken. It had an incredibly savory, crispy skin. Delicious!
Foie gras loco moco: This was Adam’s favorite dish, as he loves a good loco moco. Well, this version was like a loco moco on crack! A fried quail egg on top of a slab of seared foie gras on top of a slice of fried spam on top of a hamburger patty on top of a mound of white rice, and all of it covered in a rich, sumptuous gravy. So rich, I couldn’t take more than a few bitefuls, but oh, so good!
Desserts: They offered three the night we were there, so we all shared one of each. The consensus was that Joe’s doughnuts were the best. If you’ve ever had a dango, it’s quite similar. Basically a soft, doughy donut ball covered in sugar, drizzled with an incredible, rich caramel sauce. The other desserts were the tres leche cake, which was a nice version, albeit much drier than I’m used to. Barely discernible in the photo is the chocolate bacon crunch bar, quite good, bacony, and rich.
Overall, dinner at Animal was a stellar food experience, and one of the best new restaurants in LA I’ve been to recently…
435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: 323 782-9225