1st time at animal - wow!
for the 4 of us we ordered:
pork belly sliders - succulent, and tender. a little bite from the mustard. fantastic.
headcheese with bread & butter pickle vinaigrette; hush puppies - tangy and meaty with the right amount of crunch from the cornmeal, the headcheese is served in paper thin slices so no gelatinous heaviness whatsoever
marrow bone with chimichurri - i felt the sauce overpowered the taste of the marrow just a atad, and since it's so fatty and rich, it should come with grilled country bread instead of buttered brioche toast, but still quite delicious
crispy pig's ear with fried egg - a wonderful play of textures and flavors - salty, tangy, and spicy, crunchy and slippery. excellent.
foie gras biscuit with sausage gravy - so decadent we should have had it for dessert. i thought the foie was rather gamy.
quail fry - i was a little shocked at how small this plate was, but the big flavor made up for it. tender greens, crispy salty skin, juicy meat, and a touch of sweetness from the maple jus. like roscoe's, but on a totally gourmet level.
we also split an entree - sirloin steak with truffle parmesan fondue & artichoke hash. the steak was a little chewy, but perfectly cooked, blanketed in luscious cheese, with the charred outside perfectly offsetting the richness. the artichokes and baby potatoes were sweet and tender.
of course there was no room for dessert...but overall one of the best dining experiences i've had lately. i will have to return to try the petite basque with chorizo; the smell of this was incredible!
Thanks for sharing. This is a seriously great restaurant with bold flavors and a whimsical take on more common forms of food (like the quail fry instead of fried chicken) that stands out like a super nova in a sky full of 25 watt bulbs...I hope your service was as good as ours has been? Another wonderful feature is the no pretense, keep the water glass topped up, check back to make sure you've got what you need substance over style of their service.
You might want to make a reservation for their upcoming special week of "Vegetable" dinners in colaboration with Jeremy Fox http://eater.com/archives/2010/02/16/napa-star-chef-jeremy-fox-leaves-his-post-at-ubuntu.php they'll be doing in the third week of May: http://www.animalrestaurant.com/
They change the menu frequently but if they are available the barbeque pork belly sandwiches with slaw are a must. I love the crispy sweetbreads with hen of the woods mushrooms and the ox tail gravy and cheddar poutine and the loco moco and the ribs as either an appetizer or a main course and finally the quail fry are all wonderful.
Read throught this Chowhound review by Exilekiss http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6209... and make sure you go to his blog to look at all the photos.
I know I will be perceived as a heathen. I continue to peruse the reviews of Animal and am so impressed with the writing. Seriously, those who have taken the time and the effort to share their passion about Animal are honored by me. Some damn fine writing. I just have to say that most of the dishes you extoll, sound just awful. Crispy pigs ears are not for me...I have read so much about Animal and congratulate the duo chefs for their vision. Just sayin: Not for me
I had the same thinking going into the restaurant. I couldn't imagine liking pigs ears -- that's what I give my dogs as a treat. But they were a total revelation. They tasted like very thin strips of bacon with chili and lime flavor. If I didn't know they were pigs ears from the menu, I would have never known.
I just went for the first time last week. Between four of us, we tried the crispy hominy, marrow bone, pigs ear, baby broccoli, hamachi tostada, duck confit, balsamic pork ribs, sweetbreads, fois gras biscuit, and the flat-iron steak entree.
I highly recommend the sweetbreads (the sauce and mushrooms are to die for), the pigs ear with chili and lime (served in very thin crispy slices), the baby broccoli with soft-boiled egg and crispy bacon (we liked it so much, we got a second order; it's like a frisee salad, but with more substantial vegetables); the fois gras biscuit and maple syrup (not to be missed), and the hamachi tostada (like the best fish taco you've ever tried). The only dishes that I didn't absolutely love were the ribs (which were a little too sweet for me, but everyone else loved) and the flat-iron steak (the beef was excellent, but it had a cheese sauce on top that I thought detracted from the beef).
Here is a link to the current menu: http://animalmenu.wordpress.com/
thanks for the reminder - i need to chime in for a 5-star meal there for my wife's birthday a few weeks back. for the first time, we could not agree on what we liked the most, between my 2 girls and my wife and i. it was that good.
we had: (basically ordered one of each, and split 4 ways, and left stuffed.)
(sorry for lack of details - i'm copying off our receipt.)
bbq pork belly slider
foie gras (no - we didn't do loco moco - we wanted to be able to taste the unctuous goodness of the foie)
chocolate crunch bar
i had a chance to peek in the kitchen, as i normally try to do when our meals are stellar. john was there that night manning the line. we just had to tell him we were glad to make the 40-mile trek for such a wonderful meal.
service was relaxed but attentive. this has to be our new favorite without breaking the bank!
next time, i might force my family to skip lunch so we can actually order one of everything on the menu! hahaha.