435 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dining date: 8/7/11
After having dinner at Night+Market, our party of 5 somewhat spontaneously dropped by Animal for “second dinner.” I’d been once before, and I remember leaving really full with dishes like an oxtail poutine, barbecue pork sandwich and foie gras loco moco sitting heavy in my stomach. Not surprisingly, I would leave Animal full as hell again.
Even at 10pm on a Sunday, the place was packed. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s just always like that, but it didn’t help that they were filming some TV show in the dining room.
I’m not sure what Bourdain ate with chef/owners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, but I’d guess it involved some pig ears, loco moco, poutine, or the bacon chocolate crunch bar. Guess I’ll have to wait and see.
We ordered up 11 dishes in total.
soft egg, texas caviar, benton’s bacon, buttermilk yogurt
I liked the interplay of the creamy beans and rich egg with the fresh crunch of the scallions and juicy acidic tomatoes. Flavors came together pretty well too.
hamachi tostada, herbs, fish sauce vinaigrette, peanut
This was a solid dish as well, with the hamachi complemented well by a mild acidity and heat, while the tostada added a welcome crunch.
chicken liver toast
The liver was very smooth with its characteristic minerality definitely present. Not really too memorable, but solid.
grilled quail, plum char-siu, apple, nectarine, yogurt
I love quail and I loved this dish. The meat was moist and tender, and I found the sweet plum sauce to be a great accompaniment. The refreshing cool fruit worked well too, countering the richness of the quail and sauce.
heirloom melon, lime, mint, elderberry saba
Cool and refreshing…not the type of dish Animal is known for, but a nice change of pace from the heft of the other plates.
crispy pig’s head, pickled vegetable aioli
The head came out in a sort of croquette form – tender, almost mushy on the interior with a very light, crispy breadcrumb exterior. An aioli was a predictable pairing.
barbeque pork belly sandwiches, slaw
Man we were so full by now; these rich pork belly sandwiches would be a bit harder to finish. But they were so good. Rich, tender and full of flavor, the pork was topped with a sweet barbecue sauce and coleslaw. The buttered bun was very good too, being soft and yielding enough so as not to squish the tender pork with each bite.
balsamic pork ribs, tomato & cucumber panzanella
The ribs were tender, easily coming off the bone. Lacquered in a rich sweet sauce, these were good but not as unique as our other dishes.
foie gras loco moco, quail egg, spam, hamburger
This was one of my favorite dishes from my previous trip; it still is. A stack of hamburger, spam, foie gras and fried egg is hard to beat. Extremely rich (and filling!), its a blend of some of the most satisfying savory ingredients.
poutine, oxtail gravy, cheddar
Another favorite, and another heavy dish we couldn’t fully appreciate in our full state. Still, the rich oxtail smothered in delicious gravy was easily scooped up by crispy french fries, creating bites that were beefy, cheesy, crispy and salty.
sticky toffee pudding, mascarpone, orange
Less like a pudding and more like a soft cake, I thought the toffee flavor was somewhat subdued. I appreciated the orange zest though, brightening this dessert up.
I thought this was a pretty good meal. I probably didn’t enjoy the last few dishes as much as I could have, but I still found most everything to be executed well and full of flavor. Animal did a good job of presenting dishes that were both comfortable and creative, walking the fine line there. I found that my favorite dishes were the meaty ones (I guess it’s called Animal for a reason) including the pig’s head, pork sandwiches, loco moco and poutine.