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My LA Bites: Animal

March 7, 2013

Oh Animal, the start of our relationship was rocky.  So rocky that it almost didn’t go anywhere.  But I persevered and we found something great at the end.

I was dining solo on the last night of a week long work trip and had hoped to grab one of the seven bar seats at Animal.  A few too many detours at the Grove ended up costing me one of the coveted spots reserved for walk-ins.  I was disappointed when faced with the potential of an hour wait.  Instead of offering me one of the open tables in the dining room, the hostess offered the end of the bar, standing only.  After a long tired day, the last thing I wanted to do was wait so I begrudgingly accepted the strange solution.  So there I was, spending half of my meal standing at the end of the bar while the dining room was only half filled with diners for nearly the entire time I was there.  Thinking back, I am still disappointed with the inability of the staff at Animal to be flexible and accommodating.

Now that the bad has been aired, I feel like I can move onto the great part of the night – the food.  Animal is known of its meat centric small dishes that are ever changing.  After taking my time to properly peruse the menu, I decided to start my meal with a meatless salad.

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The beautiful bowl of local burrata was accompanied with katsuobushi, baby broccoli, green garlic puree and jalapeno slices.  There was so many different flavors and textures in the dish, complete opposite of how normally burrata is presented.  Somehow, they all worked together beautifully.

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Next, a plate of sweetbreads, kung pao style.  The creamy nuggets of sweetbreads were lightly fried and glazed with a spicy Szechuan peppercorn sauce and English peas.  The portion was kept small, making this rich dish easy to handle for one person.

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I followed up the sweetbreads with the chili lime pig ear with fried egg.  They hid the pig ears well under a perfectly fried egg.

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I broke through beautiful egg to find the spicy tart pig ears.  They had been stewed then sliced and fried, making the often times crunchy ear tender to eat.  This was certainly no longer beautiful to look at but nonetheless delicious and surprisingly light.

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Originally, I had planned on concluding my meal with three plates but after seeing plate after plate of the buffalo style pig tail parade out from the kitchen, I had to order some for myself.  Well dressed, the fatty crispy pig tails had just the right amount of that spicy Frank’s red hot buffalo kick.  Every once in a while, a swipe of the yogurt from the plate helped cool down the heat that had slowly built up.  I satisfyingly licked my fingers when I finished working my way through the plate.

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For dessert, I left the choice up to the lovely busboy and was very happy with my, or rather, his pick.  The cheesecake at Animal was not the typical deli style slice.  The creamy cheesecake was piped in the middle of the plate, accompanied by three scoops of light page mandarin sherbert.  The whole thing was finished off with sour grass and meringue.  The combination of sweet, tart and a hint of bitter from the sour grass had a great balance and was exactly what I needed after a meat heavy meal.

Even though the beginning of my meal at Animal had a rocky start, the food brought it up from the low and made my dinner quite memorable.  I loved that the portions were reasonable which made it easy for a solo diner to taste quite a few of the delicious dishes offered.  Let’s hope our next encounter in will start a little smoother!

Animal | 435 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90048 | http://animalrestaurant.com/

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 8, 2013 4.42 am

    All dishes that you tried are absolutely tempting! Will definitely bring myself to the area again!

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