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Feb 23, 2009 03:45 AM

Lots of Animal - Little Vegetable & No Mineral

Finally made it to Animal on Fairfax (3 doors north of Canter's Deli) last night for dinner. This dinner was a hit from start to finish and, as long as my statin drug is able to continue to do it's job, I would gladly dine here on a regular basis (or until my bypass surgeon spoke to me gravely about my dining choices).

Playful menu selection with a serious execution of the food by a kitchen that knows how to put together great, bold flavors in a palate pleasing way. Service was excellent, from the friendly greeting by the hostess to the bus boy who was on top of anything we needed to a knowledgeable and humorous server with an easy going but professional demeanor who was very helpful in winnowing down our choices.

Began with a bottle of Italian sparkling wine (Prosecco) which at $33 seemed very fairly priced. They have a small but serviceable beer and wine list. Beer would also be a good choice for the food at Animal and they have some interesting choices (see the wine and beer list on their website). I do note that they seem to encourage their guests to buy either a bottle or carafe, rather than a glass of wine, by their pricing strategy.

My wife started with the maple glazed pork ribs appetizer with a ramakin of mac & cheese. Nice pull to the meat without being at all tough and the mac & cheese was also rich, creamy and addictive with a browned top of bread crumbs. Our 20 year old son who came with us wanted to split the chili cheese fries with me (poutine, ox-tail gravy, Vermont cheddar cheese over fries). This was also delicious if a little bit salty (in a good way for the most part) and we practically mopped up the last bits of gravy with our forks to get every last, bit of the ox-tail gravy left on the plate.

Wife had the flat iron steak with bearnaise sauce, sunchokes, caramelized onion and artichoke sauce. Our son chose the pork chop with grainy mustard, apple, farro and cipollini onions. Finally I had their take on fried chicken made with quail. It was a very large portion of quail which had been coated with batter laced with crack (it must of been because it was so damn addictive) and had a maple jus (not so much to be a distraction but just added a hint of sweetness to the dish that really worked) and was sitting on top of grits that reminded me of a cross between grits and risotto - it was so creamy along with some very tender long cooked chard and slab bacon.

The evening ended with an order of the hot cinnamon coated donuts with caramel sauce for my wife and son and I went with the bacon chocolate crunch bar with sauce anglaise. The donuts were wonderful and, while I liked the crunch bar I think I would go for the tres leches, dulce de leche dessert the next time.

With 3 coffee's the tab with tax, came to $181 + tip.

Wonderful food and service. This delivered on all counts.

435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

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  1. Thanks for the review Servorg. :) I can't wait to go. My friend is going to freak out when they hear about the Poutine with Ox-Tail Gravy. :)

    4 Replies
    1. re: exilekiss

      They have a lot of very interesting appetizers. Because my son wanted to share the poutine I didn't end up ordering the foie gras appetizer which sounded wonderful (or for that matter the pork belly appetizer which also caught my eye) and which the waiter said was a huge piece of foie gras. Next time!

      I, of course, look forward to reading your report and seeing your photos. I did notice one Asian couple taking snaps of all their food with their camera phones but I didn't have a chance to ask them if they were going to be blogging about their meal (or if they happened to be hounds).

      1. re: Servorg

        Nice write up Servorg.

        Ha ha! That was me and my wife snapping pictures with our phones last night. Hope it didn't disturb you, or the others, since I thought it was kind of annoying seeing my phone flash during the meal. We forgot to bring our regular camera, so we had to make do with our crappy phone images. We have small a collection of bad pictures of some our nicest meals(alinea). We don't blog about our meals and there are so many wonderful bloggers out there that do such a bang up job. We just use the images to share with friends and commemorate special occasion meals. Since you brought it up, here's what we had and yes we ordered way too much food...

        crispy hominy lime (pictured)
        melted petite basque, chorizo, toasted bread
        grilled baby broccoli & chicory, poached egg, grana, pancetta vinaigrette
        poutine, ox-tail gravy, vermont cheddar (pictured)
        balsamic pork ribs, baked beans and elbows (pictured)
        flat iron, béarnaise, sunchoke, caramelized onion, artichoke (pictured)
        bacon chocolate crunch bar, s&p anglaise
        blueberry brown butter tart, yuzu whipped cream

        The crispy hominy was lightly battered and deep fried with lime wedges on the side. Nice texture with the crispy outer and soft inner. Some were fried to a crisp, but tasty nonetheless. The one was kind of on the salty side. Can't say they under season here.

        I really enjoyed the melted petite basque and would easily order that again. Cheese melted over slices of chrizo and caramelized onions, served with sides of grilled/toasted bread. I'm a sucker for good cured meats, cheese, and bread.

        Grilled broccolli was a pretty healthy helping peppered with bits of bacon, grana pandana, and a poached egg that was a bit overcooked. This would make a great side dish to go along with all the meat.

        I was really looking forward to the poutine for my main dish, but was getting quite full on the apps. Nice shreds of slow cooked ox-tail in a light sauce over frites/fries. Didn't pick up much on the cheese as it was all melted and collected on the bottom of the plate. I agree that the dish was salty, almost to a fault. We told our waitress this after the meal and she said that it happens sometimes and would relay that to the kitchen. Can't wait to eat the leftovers of this dish tonight.

        Ribs were fall of the bone tender, but didn't have that smokey punch expect from a 10 hour smoked piece of meat. the glaze was subtle and nicely complemented the meat without being overpowering. This was tasty meat candy all the way.

        Flatiron steak was spot on medium rare and the entire dish was well prepared. Loved the fingerling potatoes that came with.

        No way did we finish all our dishes and even though we were too full for dessert, we opted for the bacon chocolate crunch bar and blueberry brown butter tart anyways. Maybe we needed to save room for desert as we felt the desserts were meh. We felt the blueberry brown butter tart with yuzu whipped cream was much better than the bacon choco crunch bar.

        The $7 glass of house red was easy drinking and good to the last sip. $113 + tip was not bad considering how many dishes we had. The help was friendly and attentive. Our water glasses were never empty, which I consider a huge plus and a good indicator of the effort the staff makes to please the clientele. We can't wait to drag our hound friends back to Animal. Ordering starters only would make a wonderful communal meal. Animal is choice spot for a good casual meal.

        ok, back to my lurking ways

        1. re: mpken

          Hi Ken. Pretty funny. Only once did the flash draw my attention, when your SO was standing up I think. Otherwise it was hardly noticeable. Your comment about the poutine and the cheese melting down was a point I wanted to make and completely forgot about - so thanks for making up for my spotty memory. I also was going to talk about the water glass refill being spot on. I noticed you brown leftovers bag on the table. How did the leftovers taste the next day?

          It's always nice to read another posters take on the same place on the same night - so I am glad you "uncloaked" long enough to post.

          1. re: Servorg

            Left overs report:

            Poutine the next day - pretty good and not as salty tasting. Maybe it was the smaller portion that did it. Cheese was still melted on the bottom of the plate, but was easily picked up with each bite. While the fries weren't crisp, they did hold up very well considering. Ironically, I had In-N-Out animal style fries before coming home from work.

            Ribs - super rich when cold. Sort of like eating chinese cha-siu, but with a marbled, non gristly, tender cut of pork. Only got a couple of bites before the SO finished that one off.

            All that is left is some crispy hominy that I'm sure will be gone tomorrow.

            OT - Received my package prosciutto, lardo, and pancetta from La Quercia today and can't wait to break out the slicer to sample tomorrow night. It's been a pretty good week so far.

    2. Great write-up!
      The quail fry is so yummy and that Poutine. I must say the last time there, I had the pork chop for the first time and I found it to be smallish and dried-out ,but that is a major aberation from my usual experience there.

      1. I'm also glad you liked it. That quail is amazing. Definitely try the pork belly when you head back...

        1. Servog.. Nice write up. I have never thought about this place until you just reminded me.. This is soo much better than C and P ( you know what I mean!!) Glad that you had enjoyed your meal.. Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar.. sounds over the top..

          2 Replies
          1. re: Foodandwine

            My wife and I went to Animal for the first time a few weeks ago and had a fantastic meal there.

            We had the pork belly with kimchi which was great. Also had the foie gras, biscuit with maple gravy laced with a bit of crack as well. So good!!! Also had the flat iron steak with foie gras sauce, mashed potato, and roasted cipollini onions. Perfectly cooked steak. Finished the meal with the tres leches which was good but not fantastic.

            All in all a great meal. These guys aren't messing around at Animal. Seriously good food that is bold and full of flavor. Not a delicate type of meal.

            Here is our blog on it if you would like to take a look at some of the pictures.


            1. re: Tony

              The pork belly and foie biscuit are definite "go to" items the next time we go. Looking forward to the "crack laced" gravy.

          2. Nice. I love Animal. It's a dangerously short walk from home too.

            3 Replies
            1. re: rednyellow

              That's better so you can drink more wine and not get a DUI. So lucky.

              1. re: mpken

                I'm going tonight I can't wait. Is there a dress code? Can I get away with jeans and a t-shirt?

                1. re: pudd

                  No dress code. Wear whatever your comfortable in. Jeans and a black tee shirt will fit right in as far as looking like a neighborhood uniform.