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Finally made it to Animal! A nice experience

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Nicole Aug 18, 2009 03:34 PM

So my husband and I finally made it to Animal this past weekend, and I'm glad we did, because everything we ordered was very enjoyable. I want to thank all the hounds for their great reviews of this restaurant, they were very helpful in guiding us in which dishes to order. I thought I'd give a quick run-down of my take on them. Our strategy was to order small plates only so that we could try more things. I starred our favorites, but everything was good.

chicken liver toast 3
-Very good, creamy and savory.

**barbeque pork belly sandwiches, slaw 10
-Delicious! The clean, bright flavor of the slaw really balanced the rich pork belly and the flavorful sauce, and the brioche was nice and light and airy. My husband's favorite of the night (my second favorite).

grilled squid, chorizo, chimichurri 10
-Very good, also well-balanced sweet, salty, and spicy components.

**pork belly, kimchi, peanuts, chili soy, scallion 12
-Delicious! I loved the way the acidity and spice of the kimchi and chili soy complemented the rich pork belly..also loved the mix of textures. My favorite of the night.

poutine, oxtail gravy, cheddar 15
-We liked this, but probably not as much as other hounds have. Although the oxtail was tender and delicious, the overall dish was very salty and a big portion, and we got "fatigued" from eating it. Couldn't finish this one.

foie gras, biscuit, maple sausage gravy 22
-Very good, but very sweet. It was a nice ending to the meal since we didn't have room for dessert. While I enjoyed the richness of it, I think a salty element would have enhanced this dish.

The service was excellent. I requested that we get one dish at a time, and the pacing was perfect. We were absolutely stuffed, and only spent $79 (after tax, before tip, did not order drinks). We felt like this was the best value meal we've had in a long time, especially given the high quality. I am eager to return in the future and try out more dishes.

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  1. Phurstluv RE: Nicole Aug 18, 2009 03:46 PM

    Wow, great review. Thanks for posting it. I've been on the fence as to where to go for my Birthday dinner, and I think you just sealed it!

    Gotta ask, tho, how big are the portions? Looks like the $10 ones are more appetizer sized, or is everything "small plates"? And do they have wine, beer & alcohol? Thanks again!

    17 Replies
    1. re: Phurstluv
      a213b RE: Phurstluv Aug 18, 2009 03:54 PM

      Phurst, I cannot recommend Animal highly enough, so long as you're not shy about being a carniwhore. Everyone I've taken there has loved it.

      In terms of portion size, it looks like Nicole only ordered off of their appetizers, which is not a bad idea for your first time -- it's what my wife and I did, I think we ended up with 7 or 8 apps spaced out as "courses", and then a couple of desserts. It was far and away more than enough food for the two of us.

      They also have mains, most of which are also delicious -- they are more substantial in size, but not grossly so (with the possible exception of the rack of ribs, which is fairly large, though I am sure there are individuals who eat it all on their own).

      They have really good desserts, too -- it's unfortunate Jon's Donuts are not on the menu right now, because I dream about those hot, peanut-oil fried slather in sugar/cinnamon donuts. Mmm Mmmmm!!!

      1. re: a213b
        Phurstluv RE: a213b Aug 18, 2009 04:10 PM

        Oh, don't you worry, my husband & I are unabashed carniwhores, and damn proud of it!!

      2. re: Phurstluv
        mollyomormon RE: Phurstluv Aug 18, 2009 03:55 PM

        There are both entrees and appetizers. I believe all the dishes Nicole ordered are on the app section and are basically the size of appetizers you would find in most restaurants, although pretty much everything on the menu very rich. The poutine, as she mentioned, though, is a really big helping and might be hard to share for just two people. The entrees are also about what one would expect in terms of size. They have beer and wine but not a full bar.

        1. re: mollyomormon
          Phurstluv RE: mollyomormon Aug 18, 2009 04:12 PM

          Got it, thanks so much for the info. Will hopefully get there in the next few weeks. I just know my hubby's going to love, Love, LOVE this place!! And foie on a a biscuit with maple sausage gravy?? Be still my beating heart!!!

          1. re: Phurstluv
            mollyomormon RE: Phurstluv Aug 18, 2009 04:47 PM

            Like a213b, I can't say enough good about Animal. When they were first opening, a writer friend was interviewing them and asking them to explain the concept of the restaurant. To paraphrase, they told her, look, we're cooking food that chefs want to eat. And I think that's true. Everything I've had there is delicious. My last meal there was for a birthday and they let the birthday guy come up with a price per person and then they created a menu around that price with a bunch of different dishes from the menu and then just served us family style. It was awesome.

            1. re: mollyomormon
              Phurstluv RE: mollyomormon Aug 18, 2009 05:01 PM

              You gotta love chefs who cook for chefs. They really do seem like two awesome dudes. I take it they no longer cater, probably too busy now with the store, but I would love to just take them home with me!!!!

              1. re: Phurstluv
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                Hailyn RE: Phurstluv Aug 21, 2009 03:04 PM

                As far as I know, they still do catering. They catered my wedding just a few weeks ago, and the food was wonderful, with top quality sourcing of produce, including Little Gem lettuces and heirloom tomatoes.

                1. re: Hailyn
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                  DMojoD RE: Hailyn Nov 30, 2009 07:55 PM

                  Hi Hailyn. I just came across your post - congrats on your recent wedding! I'm starting to look for caterers for my wedding and Animal is on my short list. It's great to hear that the food was wonderful - what was on your menu? Any other thoughts about their catering? Thanks!!

            2. re: Phurstluv
              goodhealthgourmet RE: Phurstluv Aug 18, 2009 04:50 PM

              save room for dessert ! i want you to order their Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar and tell me how glorious it is so i can live vicariously through you ;)

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                Phurstluv RE: goodhealthgourmet Aug 18, 2009 04:58 PM

                OMG ~ Bacon chocolate crunch bar! I usually don't order dessert; however, for your sake, I will suffer through the process, purely for scientific purposes! And we just may have to order 2, bc there's no way my hubby would let me eat it all by myself, even after gorging on a foie biscuit with maple sausage gravy. Oh my, I do believe I'm drooling now!!

                1. re: Phurstluv
                  mollyomormon RE: Phurstluv Aug 18, 2009 05:03 PM

                  Just an FYI that many people find the bacon chocolate crunch bar sort of the weakest link there, even people who love the other dishes. I've never ordered it for that reason, but I'll be interested to hear your take if you do. The other desserts I've tried (the donuts mentioned above, the tres leches and the pineapple upsidedown cake) were all great.

                  1. re: mollyomormon
                    Phurstluv RE: mollyomormon Aug 18, 2009 05:07 PM

                    Thanks for the advice, mo'm. Will keep it in mind, but I think my head will have already exploded by that time, with confetti all over the floor and dessert will literally be me licking the plates!! ;) But my husband, on the other hand, is not so easily deterred, and will probably take one for the team!

                    1. re: Phurstluv
                      a213b RE: Phurstluv Aug 18, 2009 05:20 PM

                      Like others, I too find the Bacon Chocolate Crunch bar to be one of the weaker, if not the weakest, items on the menu. I'm not saying don't get it, but I have found basically all of their other desserts to be far better than it, fwiw.

                      1. re: a213b
                        goodhealthgourmet RE: a213b Aug 18, 2009 05:24 PM

                        you guys are shattering my fantasy! i saw a feature on that crunch bar on TV, and i was seriously *drooling* at the concept...but i trust my fellow CHers, so if you say it's not "all that" i believe you. actually, it sorta makes me feel better since i can't have it ;)

          2. re: Phurstluv
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            Nicole RE: Phurstluv Aug 18, 2009 04:05 PM

            Thanks. Happy birthday! The portions sizes really varied depending on the dish. They have larger sized entrees as well, we just didn't order any of them, because there were a number of smaller plates I really wanted to try. The chicken liver toast was just a couple of bites. The pork belly sandwiches were 2 sliders...in total, probably an average to slightly larger than average appetizer. The grilled squid was an average-sized appetizer portion, and it was light. The pork belly with kimchi was big for an appetizer, it was closer to the size of an entree. The poutine was huge for an appetizer, definitely closer to entree size. This was a regular-sized plate full of fries topped with cheese and beef. This is the only dish we did not finish, I think we managed to eat 2/3. The foie with biscuit was appetizer-sized--small but extremely rich and filling. The thing to consider is that they have a lot of heavy dishes, so it's not just about portion size, it's about richness. Yes, they have beer and wine but no hard liquor.

            1. re: Nicole
              Phurstluv RE: Nicole Aug 18, 2009 05:00 PM

              Thanks again for getting back to me and describing the portions with exacting detail. I can only hope they have most of the same stuff on the menu when we get to go. And I think I'd better start fasting now, so I can stuff all of that and more into my belly! Oh, to be a hound!!!

              1. re: Phurstluv
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                Nicole RE: Phurstluv Aug 18, 2009 06:13 PM

                No problem. I'm guessing that our 2 favorite pork belly dishes will be on the menu when you go...they say that the menu changes daily, but they've definitely had the pork belly with kimchi dish on the menu for months, and I think the bbq pork belly sandwiches have been on it for a while now. Yes, stomach space is a big issue...I am the kind of person who normally always has room for dessert, but I couldn't even attempt it this time!

          3. Jennalynn RE: Nicole Aug 18, 2009 06:00 PM

            You almost ordered the exact same menu that I did my first time there.

            I still dream about the pork belly sandwiches. I could have had two orders of that alone and gone home thrilled to pieces.

            We too got very fatigued by the poutine. Very heavy. Not a summer dish at all, and better shared with 3 or 4.

            We did get the chocolate bacon dessert and it wasn't a stand up and cheer moment for us.

            But other than that, we loved the place.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jennalynn
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              Nicole RE: Jennalynn Aug 18, 2009 06:07 PM

              That's funny, it looks like we have similar taste! Yes, those pork belly sandwiches were unreal!

            2. rednyellow RE: Nicole Aug 18, 2009 06:27 PM

              Good post. I love Animal. I don't get there as often as I'd like, but every time I've gone, the food and service has been fantastic.

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                exilekiss RE: Nicole Aug 19, 2009 01:51 PM

                Hi Nicole,

                Very nice! :) I'm so glad you enjoyed Animal. Next time you go, be sure to try some of their entrees like the Foie Gras Loco Moco and Quail... I know it sounds cliched but seriously, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! :)

                4 Replies
                1. re: exilekiss
                  Steve2 in LA RE: exilekiss Aug 19, 2009 02:41 PM

                  Personally, I was thrilled with the Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar. It was unique yet seriously fit t'eat.

                  Started the meal with the poutine so we didn't experience the food-fatigue several of you described. We also had the quail fry(outstanding ) balsamic ribs, flat iron steak and the pork belly with kimchi (a most memorable and inspiring dish), amongst others. We had the donuts too, little blobs of deep-fried heaven.

                  One thing I haven't seen discussed is the wine list. We had a very refreshing Cava to start, more of a place holder than anything else. Then, came the pairing conundrum. I'm a fan of big reds but because of the widely varied flavors, spices and richness of the food, selected the Pink Girl Napa Valley Rose of Syrah.

                  I'd never heard of this label but as a fan of the newly re-popularized "pinks", we went for it. It was terrific. In fact, it paired so well, I went on-line and ordered a half-case from the nearest purveyor stocking it, in Santa Clarita! (Note: The bottle, listed at $50 dollars in the resto, sold for $19 dollars retail. Not complaining, mind you, it's just interesting to see those fabled markups confirmed)

                  Good news, the wine list is as eclectic as the menu. Bad news . . . well, I can't get there often enough. I'll be back first chance I get.

                  1. re: Steve2 in LA
                    Phurstluv RE: Steve2 in LA Aug 19, 2009 02:58 PM

                    Thanks for the info on the wine list, I was actually wondering what type of wines they had to pair with the type of rich food they serve. I think you made a great choice and I will look for that when we go. Thanks again!

                    1. re: Phurstluv
                      Servorg RE: Phurstluv Aug 19, 2009 03:28 PM

                      Animal is nice enough, and well organized enough, to put up their "sample" wine list with prices on their website (which will give you a "flavor" for their choices that they think will pair well with their incredible food).

                      http://animalmenu.wordpress.com/categ...

                  2. re: exilekiss
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                    Nicole RE: exilekiss Aug 19, 2009 05:24 PM

                    Thanks exilekiss, you wrote one of the great reviews that made me eager to try Animal! I am eager to try the foie gras loco moco and the quail entrees next time. There were just too many wonderful-sounding dishes to try in one visit!

                  3. m
                    mdpilam RE: Nicole Feb 22, 2010 10:23 PM

                    Went to Animal (brought my visiting parents there) this past weekend, and was super impressed. Had the best meal I've had in a long time.

                    We ordered the pork belly sliders, the pig's ear, the sweetbreads, the foie gras biscuit and gravy and the ribeye for two. The pork belly sliders were excellent, and the pig's ear - which I was eager to try - was phenomenal (the spiciness of this sealed it as my favorite), the two best dishes of the night. I loved the foie gras biscuit and gravy, though I wished there would have been atleast two biscuits and a little more gravy, but this was still a really good dish. I liked the sweetbread, but had higher hopes after reading rave reviews about it here. And lastly, I was a bit disappointed with the ribeye. There was a fair amount of "tough, connective-tissue type fat" on the steak, which made cutting and chewing parts of it tough. The meat though was superb, as was the sauce on it. This was a huge hunk of meat though (we went with the "smaller" 40oz one too), and we still enjoyed it, just wished there was less of the "tough" fat.

                    Oh, and they were out of the chocolate bacon bar, which I had heard was not as great as the hype, but I still wanted to try because I love bacon, so we went with the tres leches cake, which was really good as well, and I don't even like cake. All around excellent meal with excellent service.

                    1. u
                      uwsister RE: Nicole Feb 22, 2010 10:44 PM

                      Had a fantastic meal there last month and forgot to post about it. My faves were the pork belly sliders and foie with biscuit and gravy (this really is a must-order.) We also ordered poutine last because I've read so much about it being a huge portion and the waiter also recommended that we don't order it unless we're still hungry at the end, which we were after 4 apps and 1 entree (flat iron steak) for 2 people. Guess I must be a big eater since I really didn't think the portion was that big! Still had room for tres leches, which was good. Contemplating ordering the donuts. Oh well, next time...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: uwsister
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                        kevin RE: uwsister Feb 22, 2010 11:35 PM

                        I always thought the oxtial or short rib poutine was real super duper meaty and heavy. the key to that foie gras with biscuit and gravy, is the sriracha and honey in the sauce, spicey and sweet.

                        1. re: uwsister
                          Servorg RE: uwsister Feb 23, 2010 03:14 AM

                          The donuts are an excellent choice for dessert and if they are offering their sweetbread appetizer with hen of the woods, etc. I would get that for sure. We love Animal.

                        2. nsxtasy RE: Nicole Mar 2, 2010 07:59 AM

                          I was in L.A. for the weekend and ate at Animal Sunday night, after reading positive reviews here on Chowhound. I thought it was FANTASTIC!

                          I absolutely LOVED the foie gras dish, the one over the biscuit with maple sausage gravy. I did not think it was too sweet; however, most foie gras dishes pair it with a sweet item, often a fruit or fruit jelly. It was also a generous portion, and cooked perfectly, slightly crispy on the very outer edge. This was just wonderful; I would not change a thing!

                          I also had the sweetbreads starter, which was outstanding. This was followed by the skatewing main course, which was very good, although ever so slightly dry thanks to the cornmeal crust and the skate being thinner than most.

                          For dessert, I ordered the saba panna cotta. Saba is a vinaigrette and it was only slightly drizzled on top; it added more of a visual element than affecting the flavor much. So it was basically a vanilla panna cotta. A wonderful, delicious vanilla panna cotta.

                          I appreciated the note on the Animal website that they have bar seating which was first come first served, which is exactly what I needed on this particular evening. I arrived at 8 pm on Sunday night and there were people waiting for tables, but there was an open seat at the bar, so I didn't have to wait at all.

                          The restaurant is somewhat small and the decor is minimalist contemporary. One other note - The room itself is very, very noisy, in case that's a factor on when or with whom you go. Since I was dining solo, I didn't care.

                          What a delicious, wonderful dinner! Thanks to all the Chowhounders for alerting me to this place!

                          1. A5 KOBE RE: Nicole Mar 2, 2010 02:40 PM

                            This thread is making me hungry..

                            :DROOLS:

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