When you travel, there are some restaurants that you must go to when in that selected city. Animal was the main restaurant on our list during a recent work trip to Los Angeles. I had viewed Animal on a travel show a few years back and ever since then, this restaurant has been on my mind. When you visit the restaurants website there isn't any distracting theatrics, just the basic info that you need to know. There isn't even a sign on the restaurant so if your not paying attention you will walk right past it (hint, its next to the Supreme store)
When you enter Animal, again no theatrics. A small cozy restaurant with some wood panel and a small bar. As the sun goes down, the restaurant gets dim and sexy, perfect for date night. As we were seated, water glasses get filled and a 2 sided paper menu is placed in front of us. Everyone at the table looks at the menu...we look at each other.. and look at the menu again.. and this fabulous eaters.. is where the theatrics begin. Our knowledgable server explained to us that its best to order a number of things and share amongst the table. No pulling our leg on this.. here's what we dined on:
chicken liver toast
yellow nectarine, radish, agretti, local goat cheese, almond vinaigrette
beets, avocado, pita, feta, creamy sumac
Mexican street corn, epazote, serrano, parmesean
chicken wings, orange gastrique, mango amba, cilantro
hamachi tostada, herbs, fish sauce vinaigrette, peanut
poutine, oxtail gravy, cheddar
pig ear, red chili, lime, maple, fried duck egg
yellow tail collar, jerk spices, watermelon radish, citrus, palm sugar
To start, the service staff was amazingly attentive and knowledgeable. Our beverage glasses never went unnoticed, utensils changed, table cleared, and every question we had answered. When great service and great food are both in the restaurant, the feeling of a great experience is indescribable. Our dishes came at a reasonable pace and thats another great thing about attentive service staff. When dishes "stagger" like that, it gives you time to savor your food and also gives you time to prepare for the next course.
We began our meal with chicken liver toast. I am not a fan of chicken liver like ever, but the chicken liver toast with balsamic onions at Animal, I could eat a whole tray. With chewy grilled bread, tart and sweet onions, and the smoothest non-mineral chicken liver I have ever tasted, this was easily one of our favorite dishes of the night.
Another stand out dish to grace our table was the yellowtail collar. Fish collar's have been popping up all over NYC menus lately. This section of the fish under the collar bone houses so much flaky, tender and juicy meat. The fresh citrus, and palm sugar vinaigrette that accompanied the collar blended so perfectly together, that we were still talking about the components of this dish when we got back to NYC. I don't know what I wanted to do more, pick the collar up with my hands, or spoon the palm sugar vinaigrette in my mouth.
When I first visited California a few years ago, I noticed that food in California stands alone by itself and stands together when combined with other elements. When you dine in Cali you can literally taste the freshness in everything and dining at Animal is no different. You often hear people describe great food that is prepared and cared for. Animal is doing just that. Combining flavors, and actually caring about the food that is placed on a plate. This dining experience is easily my most memorable meal of 2014.
435 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036