Had a yummy dinner at Animal restaurant in LA last night and wanted to recap it here for my own memory’s sake.
First off, Animal is full on carnivore heaven. Snout to tail eating going on here with a very extensive menu that is not for the faint hearted. Don’t worry, there are also some fish dishes on the menu, but if you are vegetarian then forget about it.
I was super excited to get a reservation for dinner very easily. A feat that would be unheard of if Animal was in San Francisco, trust me. The decor of the place is minimalist with just wood tables and pretty baren walls. The ambiance was a bit noisy and had a totaly random selection of music playing. I heard Tom Petty and Kayne 808 back to back, but I enjoyed the randomness of the music. The staff was also very attentive. They were more than happy to show you plates when they were walking by to serve another table and tell you what it was and even the bussers were super knowledgable about the menu and ingredients.
OK onto the fun part. The food. Yum.
Crispy Pig Head
We started out with the chicken liver toast which was delicious. Super rich liver and the bread was toasted just enough to be soft but crunchy and warm enough to be a perfect counterpart to the liver. We ended up ordering two portions because it was so good. Next up we had the market citrus, pistachio, fennel, champagne vinegar, wild herbs. This was kind of a “let’s be healthy” sacrifice and not terribly memorable. We saw the spicy beef tendon chip, charred onion pho dip walking by and decided to get an order. It was basically a beef chicharrone. I love me some pork cracklin so this was a fav of mine. Another to die for dish was the crispy pig head, short-grain rice, bulldog sauce, soy egg. Damn it, this was the bomb. According to our server, the pig head was ground up and then slow cooked for 12-16 hours. The bulldog sauce and the rice made this taste like some kind of a katsu dish.
For larger portions – which we shared because Animal is kind of like tapas meets family style – we had ricotta gnocchi, six-hour bolognese. The gnocchi was light as a feather which is sometimes hard to find and the bolognese was delish. Totally mouth-watering. I even got my mostly Paleo counterpart to indulge and he was not disappointed. For a side, we ordered the crispy brussels sprout, pancetta vinaigrette, soft egg, parmesan. Also amazing, but by this time I was getting so full that I only had one bite of it. For a fish dish we tried yellowtail collar, jerk spices, jicama, citrus, palm sugar. This was a pretty big portion and the seasoning of it was really different like a sweet and spicy meets citrus. Very good, but next time I would pass on this dish in lieu of other menu items that were far superior. Finally, we finished off with fried rabbit legs, short grain rice, lemon pepper, sour cream gravy. To be honest, at this point I was way too full to even appreciate the dish. The legs were way bigger than I had expected and I could only stomach a few bites. I think I was unable to appreciate this dish and am a little sad about it.
Overall, I had a fantastic meal and my only regret is that we ordered far too much. The menu has so many tempting items on it that I can’t see how anyone could practice restraint at this restaurant. I guess I will have to go back so I can hone in on the true winners!