A friend of mine has been working in the kitchen of Animal Restaurant for over a year and a half now, and I finally had a chance to try it out yesterday. Since it’s a small restaurant that only seats 40, we made a reservation for 6:15 – arrived at 6:25, close enough. Animal is located on Fairfax just north of Beverly, and considering we were late, we opted for valet.
Upon entering the restaurant, the first thing I noticed was that there was very limited decor in the restaurant. The wall was as bare as the walls in my bedroom – no posters, no art, no nonsense. I like the minimalism which extends to the lack of any sign-age outside the restaurant. I’d actually seen this restaurant before from across the street at a bar called the Dime, and wondered what popular restaurant this might be.
To get to the point, between two people, we split five dishes and two glasses of wine. The dishes are slightly larger than standard tapas, and we had trouble finishing the food we got. All the dishes were delicious, the total bill was approximately $60, and I know I’ll be returning here soon. Animal is now one of my favorite restaurants in LA.
The first dish we ordered was the Chicken Liver Toast ($3), a simple yet delectable dish. It was a piece of toasted french toast (sounds redundant, but I don’t think it is) with chicken liver spread across the entire top surface. Both my date (?) and I knew we loved chicken liver, so this wasn’t an adventure for us. For those of you who’ve never tried chicken liver, this plate is a great introduction to it.
The second dish that arrived was the Pig Ear, Chili, Lime, Fried Egg ($12). Since my experience with pig ears is limited, all I can say is that these were the best pig ears I’ve tasted in my life. Unfortunately, this was my least favorite dish of the night. While extremely enjoyable, I couldn’t help but feel that the flavoring was somewhat… masking. I assume that pig ears aren’t that great on it’s own, which would explain why this dish seemed over spiced compared to the other dishes here.
While we tried five dishes, only four were ever ordered. We were extremely lucky to have a friend in the kitchen who sent us their Hamachi Tostada ($12) as our third dish, which was absolutely my favorite dish. The hamachi used in this dish was the best quality hamachi I’ve had in years, it’s almost ashame it came in a dish, not by itself. The world stopped for a moment, when all at once, I experienced the crunch from the tostada, the melting texture of the hamachi, the sweetness of the fish sauce, and a hint of aroma from the cilantro.
The forth dish we had were the Barbeque Pork Belly Sandwiches ($12). This was my second favorite dish. The brioche bun was extremely light and fluffy, and in between, the pork belly sat there so fatty and delicious. I remember biting into the burger with extreme finesse and care, not because I didn’t want to be messy, but because I didn’t want to waste even a drop of this deliciousness.
The final dish we had was the Poutine with Oxtail Gravy and Cheddar ($16). THIS is what I would call fries, animal-style. Juicy, thick, flavorful meat heaped on top of crunchy french fries, or whatever they’re supposed to be called. We actually had trouble finishing this dish, and the bus boy not-so-subtly judged us as he removed our half-finished plate. He was probably just jealous.
Anyways, try Animal. It’s awesome.