Los Angeles (last visit: October 2010).
Animal tries hard not to say anything about itself. There's no sign in front of the restaurant (it's four doors up from Canter’s Deli, on the same side of the street). Its web site doesn't describe the cuisine. The best clue is its name: Animal is a meat-centric restaurant. It's a very informal place that aims high. Think of it as gourmet restaurant meets greasy spoon.
A single page offers about 25 dishes, most of which are appetizer sized. Most dishes include meat; most dishes are a little different. Offerings include various animal organs and appendages: tails, ears, brains, sweetbreads. It's possible there was a vegetarian dish hiding in the menu somewhere, but none comes to mind.
Informal. Very informal. The entrance is unmarked. Inside the narrow room is a stone floor, plain walls and tables with a distressed look. At one end is a bar that seats seven; the full menu is available. Music is moderately loud but not painful. Service is also informal: as near as I could tell, dishes are sent out without regard to timing.
Marrow bone, chimichurri, caramelized onions. A large bone was served split, along with very thick garlic bread. As you'd expect, this was a rich dish. It was very good.
Pig ear, chili, lime, fried egg. Thin strips of ear were fried until crunchy, with a generous hand on the spice. Put a sunny side up egg on top,and add crunchy slivered vegetables. It was reasonably good, but had the vinaigrette not been so sour, it would have been better.
Foie gras, biscuit, maple sausage gravy. A huge piece of foie gras graced the plate. It was seared, but the piece of liver was a bit too thick. Nonetheless, it was very good; the biscuit with sweet sausage gravy was an odd but good foil.
Tres leches cake, with dulce de leche. This was a decent rendition, but that's about it. And, what do you know, there was a vegetarian dish on the menu after all.
I like an unpretentious place that offers interesting food. Animal fits the bill. There were a number of other interesting sounding dishes I'd like to try out.
The meal was $60, plus drinks, tax and tip.
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