Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Eat Animal, It's Incredible

Let me join the chorus of those singing the praises of Animal on Fairfax. The semi-celebrity chef driven restaurant, owned by the Food Network's 2 Dudes, is a temple of meat (not a single vegetarian entree appeared on the menu on my visit) and down scale food done up.

My very favorite dish, by a long shot, was the poutine. Now, while I have long heard tell of this Canadian specialty of french fries, covered with brown sauce and cheese curds, I've never actually tasted it, so I can't make a comparison with the real thing. I can tell you that the Animal version is exquisite. Perfectly fried french fries, topped with a rich and wonderfully rich oxtail jus, it was all we could do not to lick the jus off the plate when we were done. This was one of those dishes that you think about long after your dinner and yearn to taste again. And we weren't the only ones, poutines were shooting out of the kitchen like mad. My dining partner and I agreed that we would happily come back and just have the poutine.

The poutine overshadowed our other appetizer, foie gras with biscuit and sausage and gravy. This was a case of two much of a good thing. The biscuit, both moist and fluffy and gravy, sweet and nicely spiced, was a great update of the southern classic. The foie gras was well cooked but I don't think it was needed on the dish and the combination of flavors didn't really come together as well as it could have.

Continuing the southern theme, I went for the entree of fried quail, greens, grits, bacon back and syrup. This was an amazing tribute to classic southern cooking. The quail was fried up like some of the best fried chicken ever (chicken fried quail?) and the pairings, in contrast to the foie gras, harmonized well. The salty quail, the porky bacon, the sweet syrup, the greens, the gritz, every element worked and complemented its neighbor.

I was less blown away by the desserts. Yes, I had the chocolate bacon crisp bar, but I wasn't impressed, but then I've never been on the bacon-for-dessert bandwagon. The dulce de leche tres leches cake was a nice, well done piece of tres leches, but not exciting.

Additional pluses at Animal were a reasonable price point for the caliber of food and plenty of wine by the glass and carafe as well as the bottle, for those of us who are lighter drinkers (and yes, that includes me).

So eat animal, it is incredible.

435 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036

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