435 N. Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Follow Animal on Facebook
Category: Dinner, Bar
Company: Carnivorous Dates, Friends, Visitors
Quick-Rec: Bring a group so you can order several dishes and share. Make friends with neighboring tables so you can swap bites. If you go as a couple, sit at the bar and get to know the people around you for an impromptu bar-party. Leave the vegetarian at home. Go hungry.
OTC Tip: If he's there, say "I'll have what he's having" and discretely motion at Bobby Flay.
If you like Gjelina and you love meat, then Animal will be like a call in the wild. And with 857+ reviews on yelp with almost a 5-star average, it's pretty clear that the call is much more of a chant amongst hundreds.
And you should listen. The first child of restaurant partners Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo and sibling to one of NPR's "best cookbooks of 2008" Two Dudes One Pan, Animal's menu is the perfect storm of simplicity, taste, and well - meat. Here is what we got (note - changes daily):
Melted Petite Basque, Chorizo, Grilled Bread
Carrot Salad, Sunchoke, Green Goddess, Avocado
Barbeque Pork Belly Sandwiches, Slaw
Foie Gras, Biscuit, Maple Sausage Gravy
Joe's Doughnuts, Cinnamon Sugar, Caramel
Before we started, we made friends with the opulent couple sitting next to us. Being equally as curious, we did a little culinary swinging and shared our Petite Basque for their Poutine (oxtail gravy, cheddar) and our Doughnuts for their Tres Leches (dulce de leche). The Poutine was amazing - actually, I believe it was the satiny oxtail- and our female counterpart squealed with uncontainable delight after she bit into the Doughnut. Enough said? The Tres Leches was forgettable, in my opinion. But no matter, I had an entire mini Doughnut to myself- and with its butt nestled in a bath of caramel, and its walls evaporating into but a sweet, sweet memory - I was left basking in a delirium of heaven.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, aren't I? Talking about dessert and sharing and...swinging, and all.
After ordering, we sat chatting about all things two might discuss pre-food. After a while, I found my gaze glued to what I've fondly named The Eye of Animal - and even though they say you should never sit in a lock-stare with an animal, there was nothing that could be done to divert my fix. All night I ogled the peep hole into the kitchen, spotting and tracing each dish as it appeared for delivery and swooped its way to the rightful owner.
Finally, out came our Petite Basque, which came to our plates so hot that the fat was sizzling around the edges of the melted and tawny-gold cheese. Taking a wing of the toasted bread I dipped into the cheese, located a section of sausage, and smeared the entire lot on the toast. After exchanging a piece for a stack of fries smothered in cheese and oxtail gravy, I have to admit - the Poutine was, while equally as rich, a bit tastier than the Petite Basque. Not that I'm complaining. I'm comparing jewels.
Next came the Carrot Salad: a huge ribboned mop of carrot and sunchoke, sprinkled with nubbins of firm avocado, and lightly clad in Green Goddess. This - this was...nice. And by nice I mean respectable, and by respectable I mean totally worth its spot on the menu - just, I wouldn't get it again.
Quickly after appeared the Pork Belly Sliders. Me oh-my-oh ME. Now, THIS is what a slider should be - the buttery brioche, the hunk of pork belly that was firm enough to stand beneath a little slaw wig was, with one nudge of the tooth, leveled into what I can only describe as a hot, caramelized, fatty whisper. We didn't share these. Heck, we didn't even look up from our plates to breathe.
Even though we were inching toward full when the Foie Gras arrived, I was by no means deterred from diving into my encounter with the forbidden delicacy. Using my spoon I carefully scooped into the square-shaped portion that sat perched on top a biscuit so doused in gravy that it was almost the consistency of porridge (in a good way)and proceeded to...black. Initially, I thought my rush of love was due to that Foie Gras tastes like a step above pork belly - but after a bit of discussion, I realized that it could be due to the essence of taboo wafting about it all (and, taboo because it's bad for you? Or nefas because of what one must do to get that duck liver so fatty?) Either way, quite frankly, Foie Gras is the best thing I've ever had. So, pick your battles.
Oh, so you think that wiping your face, paying the bill, and waddling toward the exit means you are finished? You've clearly come to the wrong place. Just as we were about to reach for the door the last table (a group of foodie-six) caught us eyeing everything we didn't have and invited us to help them finish their plates (they had literally ordered the entire menu).
Uhm was the look on our faces, "Sure" came out of our mouths, and YES! screamed in our heads.
So, in probably one of the most shameless moments of my life, we had a "fourth meal?" proceeding dessert:
Balsamic Pork Ribs
Crispy Rabbit Legs
Flat Iron Steak, Truffle Butter
Yes, you read that right - I ate Rabbit. Somewhere in the flurry of foodie chatter and fat-weakened discretion, I ate an animal that I, at one point in my pre-adolescent years, had "freed" from the open-air farmers' market in Paris. It tasted a bit like gamey chicken. No matter - my miff was quickly stomped out by the loving amor for the Ribs - barely clinging to the bone, the delicious bark on the outside followed by the soft rib meat on the inside DEFINITELY speaks for Bobby Flay devouring an entire rack of the lush, Eden-born pleasures.
Full, giddy, and absolutely in love with Animal, in a last attempt to never leave I ran back to the bar and "casually" propositioned James, the waiter, with the possibility of me renting space in the corner next to the kitchen. Yes, to live, I confirmed. I want to live here. I'll sleep on a table, or whatever. I promise I'll work hard.
Sadly, my offer was declined. But that does not mean I won't be back, and of course, try again.
Laugh, but we made the foodie-six's blog post on Animal....Just more proof that "the good stuff" is everywhere.