It’s been years (6 to be exact) since I’ve been to Animal. It’s not exactly an “everyday eats” kind of restaurant. If it were, we would all be keeling over from heart attacks. The food is nothing short of rich and excessive, but in the best way possible (if there is such a thing). Animal is definitely a must-try restaurant for any visitor to Los Angeles. The Flatulent Snorer, a well fed Angeleno of many years, wholeheartedly agrees. He joined The Keeper, The Annoyer, Perpetually Underwhelmed and myself for a night of indulgence. Perpetually Underwhelmed and The Annoyer were first timers here, so I wanted to make sure they got to try some of the signature dishes that really helped put Animal on the map.
Mexican Street Corn epazote, serrano, parmesan
Charred, sweet, and jazzed up with some heat and salty cheese. Winner!
Chicken Liver Toast
A lot can change in 6 years, namely inflation! This shrunk to half it size and doubled in price! We had to order 3 just go make sure everyone got to try it. It still was just as delicious as I remember, though I just wished the serving was bigger to get more of that smooth umaminess in each bite. The foie was nicely balanced by the sweet onion jam.
Market Lettuce green garlic caesar, idyllwild cheese, bread crumb
I wanted to balance all the heavy dishes with lighter items. Vegetables were a hard thing to find on this menu. It wasn’t particularly mindblowing, but it was pretty tasty. There was just something different about the taste of the dressing, but it still had that creaminess you expect that coats every leaf of lettuce. We all enjoyed it.
Sirloin Carpaccio savoy cabbage, sesame, kochukaru
I am really glad the waiter recommended this dish. It had strong Asian notes with the sesame oil and the kochukaru. Definitely a well earned YUMS!
Hamachi Tostada fish sauce vinaigrette, peanut, avocado
I loved the East meets West dynamics here. Raw hamachi inspired by Japan meets avocado and tostada inspired from our neighbors south of the border. Punching things up were the zingy vinaigrette, peanuts, crispy fried shallots, and bright herbs which comes from nowhere else but Vietnam. Always a favorite of mine! YUMS!!
Marrow Bone chimichurri, caramelized onions
I wasn’t as impressed by the bone marrow this time. The richness was cut by the chimichurri and highlighted with caramelized onions.
Pig Ear red chili, lime, market egg
The Flatulent Snorer really rallied for this pick. Anything “pig ear” always gets me pretty excited due to my previous experience at Tar & Roses. It was nothing like the pig ear dishes I’ve had before, being more sweet, sour, very Asian, and more slaw/salad like. Good, but not great.
Barbeque Pork Belly Sandwich
This is another signature dish at animal and remains on the menu to this day. It’s just as good as I remember. A thick succulent slice of pork belly, slathered in sweet salty BBQ sauce, and sandwiched between a soft mini slider bun. The meatiness was perfectly balanced with the cabbage slaw. So good!
Spaghetti Dan Dan lamb, peanut, bok choy
There are different interpretations of dan dan noodles. The ones that lean heavily toward the peanut butter end of the spectrum are my least favorite. Some are just hint at peanuts and go heavy on the spicy oil. This was another pick of The Flatulent Snorer. I think he enjoyed it, but it was just ok for me even though it wasn’t too peanut buttery.
Foie Gras Biscuit maple sausage gravy
This is another signature dish that remains a stellar treat if you can handle the weight of it all. The biscuit is dense and buttery. The gravy is rich with a hint of sweetness and bits of sausage. It’s heavy upon heavy with more heavy, but somehow it really works. I’m not sure Perpetually Underwhelmed liked all the fat.
Foie Gras Loco Moco quail egg, spam, hamburger
Normally, I would not get 2 foie gras dishes in the same meal, but I thought it was important for The Annoyer and Perpetually Underwhelmed (visiting from Thailand) try the most popular items on the menu. I felt transported from the South to Hawaii. I appreciated the saltiness here after the sweeter foie gras biscuit dish.
Cheesecake Pudding strawberry, passionfruit, graham
Deconstructed anything seems to be the contemporary approach to reinventing the old. Most of the time, its quite successful, as with this dessert. It’s hard to tell what’s going on but, the base of the dessert was the a cheesecake like pudding. A layer of crumbled graham crackers simulated the crust above that layer. Passionfruit granita made for an icy and unique topping with some fresh strawberries. I really liked this one! YUMS!!
Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar s&p ice cream
I remember this Kit Kat like dessert well. It is only a sliver of what its portion size once was. It didn’t have the same crispiness that I remembered. It was still just as chocolatey and rich though.
Tres Leches dulce de leche
While nothing spectacular like the tres leches cake at ABC Cocina, it was still a deliciously moist and not too sweet a cake.
Animal pretty much delivered on its signature dishes. Portions have noticeably shrunk with an increase in price, but maybe that’s just inflation for you. So the place ain’t cheap, that’s for sure. And, I don’t remember it being so loud. The ambiance made it difficult to have any good conversation without screaming at each other. Despite these dings, I was quite pleased by the food, even by the new dishes we tried. I think Perpetually Underwhelmed might have been a little offput by the richness of the food. Certainly, that part of the restaurant has not changed. It has stayed true to its name. Animal remains as one of LA’s top restaurants in my books. It’s definitely worth a visit.
10 – You NEED to eat here
9 – Awesome
8 – Very good
7 – Good
6 – OK
5 – Average
4 – Not bad
3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT eat here