I went on a culinary adventure last night to celebrate the birthdays of two dear friends. BTW, All vegan friends please divert your eyes, because I’m even feeling a little guilty about this expedition to Animal where we did indeed eat many furry, and not so furry creatures. In fact there were some firsts for me, like pig ear (it was crunchy and tasted like English pork crackling). I know, stop thinking EW! I was reticent about trying them too, but I assure you it was one of the more enjoyable feasts in which I’ve indulged thanks to the Chef/Owners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Food Network’s 2 Dudes Catering fame.
First let me begin by apologizing for the out of focus photos (and lack of a few). The Canon Power Shot I’ve relied upon for the past five years, and a gazillion photographs decided to die on me mid meal. I was sad, but I chased my tears away today with a brand new Canon G15, so fear not – future posts should have extraordinarily gorgeous photos! Or at least I won’t be able to blame the camera next time.
Now Animal has been on my radar since it opened five years ago (it has had many rave reviews), but it is so unassuming from the outside that I never actually noticed the building until one of my guests requested we go there. The inside does not make much more of an impression – that is until you sink your teeth into the first morsel – I must have looked like a slot machine that hit the jack pot!
Buttery marrow dripping off of Texas size garlic bread with chimichurri sauce and caramelized onions, or fried cauliflower with white anchovies complimented by wild rice, tahini sauce, and just enough acid from the lemon. Crispy spring rolls filled with the house sausage of ground rabbit and shrimp dipped in mizuna (Japanese mustard) and a green curry sauce you wanted to mop up every last drop of.
The pig ear came topped with a perfectly cooked fried egg you cut and tossed with your knife and fork, so the yolk would ooze and mix in with the tanginess of the lime and dab of heat from the chili – a superb meld of flavors, and I’m told, a house favorite. This was followed by the barbecue pork belly on Hawaiian bun highlighted by a crunchy slaw relish – definitely the table favorite of the evening.
As you can see the camera was on it’s last legs by the time the pork belly sandwiches came, so you can barely see the yummy caramelized cabbage accompanying the duck breast, and Lipateur cheese.
Needless to say, Animal is not a diet friendly place, in fact I probably consumed more calories and saturated fat in that one sitting, than the past few weeks combined, so why not have a few more? In fact, why order one dessert when there are THREE to sample?
Personally, I found the tres leches cake with dolce de leche a tad too rich after all those succulent courses, but I had no trouble scarfing down the bacon chocolate crunch bar with salt and pepper ice cream (pure heaven), and I was most partial to the blueberry frozen brown butter crumble topped with Greek yogurt, and bay leaf ice cream. Animal certainly makes my top ten list of restaurants to be sure to try in LA if you haven’t already, YUM!