Friday, November 13, 2009

The Diva Returns to Animal to Get Her Hands Dirty!

Quail Fry, Grits, Chad, Slab Bacon, Maple Jus

If you read my blog regularly, then you know that Animal is one of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles!  I had the honor of making a return visit this Wednesday, and wanted to share it with you.

The brainchild of James Beard Award nominees and Food & Wine Best New Chefs in America 2009 John Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Animal restaurant does its name proud by featuring hefty hunks of meat prepared with a surprising amount of love and finesse. This is no land for the vegan, nor the weak-willed among you! After Kuzak ordered the Balsamic Pork Ribs with Delicata Squash and Cippolini Onion Vinaigrette, our server complimented him on his bravery and wished him good luck.

Why you may wonder?

Because it was a full slab of ribs that was so large, it didn't even fit on the plate!

But man were they delicious, sweet and savory, full of tender meat and fat, perfectly cooked, presented simply.  I could almost imagine we were in medieval times, eating with our hands, chowing down on meat.  While I had the quail fry again, my favorite dish which also requires much use of the hands to eat, we sampled a variety of new starters I hadn't tried before.

The clear favorite had to be the BBQ Pork Belly Sandwiches with Slaw which were sweet, juicy, tender - practically an orgasm in your mouth!  I want to go back just to eat two orders of the tiny sandwiches all by myself!

For wine, we brought a bottle from our cellar - the 2005 Saxum Heartstone (94 points Robert Parker).  Our cellar is full, so we're drinking like maniacs and hosting a variety of friends in an effort to make room for our fall shipments.  The Heartstone is a stunning wine, young and full of itself.  The Hermitage-like blend stood up well to the food and then some, and was a perfect compliment to our evening.  I highly recommend checking out Saxum.  In my humble opinion, they make the best Syrah and Syrah-blends in California.

And even more exciting?  We got the treat of eating right next to superstar chefs Jonathan Waxman, Rick Moonen and Marcus Samuelsson!  Holy Cow!  I mean, Holy Baby Back Rib!  Even Chef John Shook personally took their order and appeared nervous to be in the presence of such culinary greats.  I wonder if they're in town taping the new season of Top Chef Masters?  You heard the rumor here first!

So, I have to confess, I spied on them, and was happy to see that their order practically mirrored my own!  Let me tell you, these guys know food and can eat anywhere they want, and the fact that they chose to dine at Animal should tell you something about just how fabulous this restaurant really is!  So check it out next time you're dining out!  Just don't be afraid to get your hands dirty!

Here's a photo gallery of our meal:

Baby Broccoli, Pancetta, Parmesan, Soft Egg, Breadcrumbs

Heirloom Tomato, Ginger Vinaigarette

Turbot, Shell Bean Ragout, Basil, Pickled Peppers

Balsamic Pork Ribs, Delicata Squash, Cippolini Onion Vinaigrette

Restaurant Information:

435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225

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