March 01, 2011


Not party animal or animal cookie. Simply, Animal. 
And simply, fantastic.

Aside from a few salads, the bulk of the menu consists of well, "animals." However, contrary to popular belief (or Doah belief, which may or not be popular at all), not everything on the menu is a variation of red meat (gasp). I suppose that is alright.

Our server did warn us that everything on the menu were "small plates," so he suggested ordering/ sharing 4-5 dishes. Who knows if that was some ploy for us to order more food, but we somehow ended up with 5 different dishes. (Evidently, it doesn't take much).

We started our night with a sea animal - specifically, grilled octopus. I was surprised by the tenderness and non-chewiness of the long-armed cephalopod. Perfectly grilled and paired with chorizo in a sweet and tangy sauce, this was a great start to a gluttonous meal.

Grilled octopus, chorizo, spicy brown mustard, chowchow - $17

Next up, quail.

Thai BBQ quail, scallion, citrus, cashew, yogurt - $18
I don't eat quail often, but from what I remember, it has a pretty "gamey" taste. Perhaps it was the combo of the Thai BBQ sauces and the citrus, but the quail was succulent and hardly gamey. I also enjoyed the cashews and the cool yogurt to balance out the kick of the Thai spices - refreshing!

Part III: Pork

Balsamic pork ribs, delicata squash, arugula, pecan - $18
The juicy meat of a well-prepared rack of pork ribs falls off the bone. Check. The balsamic glaze was interesting, but also a bit too salty (but remember, I'm not a huge fan of salt). Nevertheless, the side salad gave a nice balancing effect... and helped me justify eating more meat without feeling barbaric.

Part IV: Poutine (!!)

Poutine, oxtail gravy, cheddar - $15
I love poutine! While there isn't much room to go wrong with french fries topped with cheese and gravy, there are many ways to do it right. Like, if you add pulled braised oxtail, your tastebuds will, undoubtedly, be thanking you a hundred times' over. See how everything is glistening? So were my eyes... and drool.

Finale: foie gras.

Foie gras loco moco, quail egg, SPAM, hamburger over gold rice - $35

I'm not big on foie gras.* The last time I had it, I was in France because well, if there's one place you eat foie gras, it's there.  That said, Animal is reputed to have one of the best in LA... or at least to have it appear the most on their menu in different dishes. Thus, I decided Foie Gras Loco Moco was the way to go. (go big or go home). Plus, I'm a fan of loco moco, a traditional Hawaiian dish. Overall, good, but not as awesome as the poutine.

As far as ambiance, don't expect too much. As in, decor = minimalist style. The entire restaurant is just one small room, mind you, so tables are crowded together and it gets quite noisy. You can also add Animal to the "no signage 'cause I'm too hip" crew. Surprisingly, it all fits well without being too pretentious.  I say you give this place a try, especially since co-chefs Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook won Best New Chefs in 2009. { link }

*For my animal activist readers, please do not take offense that I have eaten or may choose to eat foie gras again in the future. 

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cuisine:  Carnivoric
location: Mid-City
hours: M-Th, Sun: 6:00 PM - 11:00 PM; F-Sat: 6:00 PM - 2:00 AM  
website: { A | yelp }
attire: Casual
parking: valet ($6) or if lucky, metered parking on street
notes: Animal in The New Yorker { link }; Menu changes daily

Food for thought:

Whether you have 10 best friends or 1, love 'em with all your heart 'cause one day -- any day, perhaps every day -- they will pull through for you... as you will pull through for them. { immeasurable value }