September 4, 2009

Animal Restaurant

In 2008 Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo opened Animal restaurant in Los Angeles. Since then John and Vinny have become the talk of the town amongst Los Angeles foodies, have won Food & Wine Best New Chefs of 2009 award, and received a James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant. Quite a year for the duo.

The menu at Animal is based upon...yes, you guessed it - MEAT! More specifically rustic, comforting meat dishes - like their famous poutine (a dish from Canada - french fries topped with oxtail gravy and melted cheddar). The menu is not for the health conscious. Animal is truly for the carnivorous.

Dave and I decided to finally pay this animal a visit.

ROUND 1: Amberjack and Grilled Squid

The amberjack was served with fresh, sweet and juicy peaches, a touch of citrus and chili, and topped with micro greens and mint. The dish was clean, fresh and sweet with the perfect hint of acidity. This is one of my favorite dishes just because of the simpleness of the ingredients and the burst of flavor.

The grilled squid was Dave's choice (over my preference for the foie gras, but we all have to make concessions sometimes :) ) Luckily, the grilled squid was fantastic. The squid was cooked to perfection, not too gummy, and perfectly tender, and alongside the diced potatoes, corn, chorizo and a tangy chimichurri, the dish was the perfect melding of flavors and textures.


This was heaven in a bowl. Petit basque is a sheep's milk cheese produced in the Pyrenees Mountains. This petit basque was served melted atop a layer of sauteed leeks, onions and chorizo, and served with grilled garlic bread. I know, irresistible, and it was.

ROUND 3: BBQ Pork & Sweetbreads

We were having a tough deciding between the BBQ pork belly or the pork belly with kimchi, so on the waiter's recommendation we went with the BBQ. This was one fun dish. A piece of pork belly, slathered with BBQ sauce, topped with coleslaw, and inserted between the most perfect buttery kaiser roll. This recipe is going definitely going in the vault for our next college football Saturday menu!

Our final dish, the sweetbreads (in case you don't know, sweetbreads are the thymus and pancreas of the calf or lamb). The sweetbreads were served with creamed spinach, capers, hen of the woods (mushrooms). Over all, this was probably our least favorite dish. The flavors and overall taste were not quite as impressive as the previous dishes. If I were to do it over again, I would not have ended on this dish. Oh well!

Unfortunately, there was no room for dessert at this dinner. We had a box full of Susie Cakes waiting for us at home, so we had to take a rain check this time.

Overall, we were very happy with our meal. I would highly recommend the amberjack, grilled squid and petite basque. And next time around I will definitely be ordering the foie gras biscuit and bacon chocolate crunch bar!

Animal Restaurant
435 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 782-9225


  1. No foie gras biscuit? =(

  2. I'm ashamed that we two girls ate so much more than you and your man. hehe. But it was great. I'm def going back. ; )

  3. i love animal! i didn't get the sweetbreads when i went but i will definitely have to try them next time i go

  4. I'm surprised that I ate much more than myself!!! Kidding, but I felt that way (I still ate more than yutjangsah!).

    You should try Foie Gras with biscuit on sausage maple gravy next time. You will feel complete. hehehe

  5. You popped off at least 10 shots w/ flash on your Rebel XT? Major cajones. Haven't returned to Animal since the 2nd day they opened. Now that there are some half decent greens and seafood, we might return for some apps and leave.

  6. Just had those Pork Belly BBQ sandwhiches. Simply amazing. Need to try the Foie Gras with biscuit on sausage maple gravy next time.

  7. Wow wow wow! Love this meal. Everything looks so delicious (I would definitely go for that squid!) and really I wouldn't mind a side of poutine!

  8. I LOVED the petit basque when I went there. My friend commented that it tasted like a do-it-yourself pizza. Nothing wrong with that! ;)

  9. hey cool! nice review, we live down the street from Animal and look forward to trying it. I'm going to link you from my blog! feel free to return the favor =P