As most of you probably know, I love food. I mean, I don't eat food merely for sustenance, but because I genuinely enjoy eating and imbibing. So while I've eaten a lot of different foods throughout LA, it is only at a few places that I reach a state of food-driven bliss. Animal is one of these places. It's a simple, nondescript restaurants with simple wood tables, sparsely adorned walls, and not even a sign to mark its location.
The beauty of going with three other people is that I get the chance to try three more dishes than I would have been able to otherwise. Success. So here we go...
Nick's choice: duck confit, apple, pecans, dates, arugula
The duck fell off of the bone with but the slightest prodding with the fork, while the arugula lended a bit of pepperiness that played well with the sweetness of the apple slices. The pecans seemed a bit out of places, but contributed a nice bit of crunch.
Hannah's choice: sweetbreads, creamed spinach, capers, hen of the woods
I didn't eat nearly enough of this to establish an informed opinion on the dish, but I can safely say that my tastebuds were happy to have experienced it.
Yureli's choice: barbeque pork belly sandwiches, slaw
I was a bit taken aback by the pork belly - almost spam-like in appearance, but with a texture resembling a semi-form tofu. It was salty and swimming in a glaze of sweet (perhaps too much so?) barbeque sauce, on two buttery, toasted, impossibly airy buns that seemed to deftly defy gravity. The slaw was unimaginative, but solid.
My choice (and the most universally liked): foie gras, biscuit, maple sausage gravy
How strange of animal to place something as delicate as foie gras with biscuits and gravy. Strange, but brilliant. The foie gras was perfectly cooked, with a crisp skin that was able to hold the entirety of the buttery, rich goodness together. The biscuit was corn-based and as good as any biscuit that I've had at a solid barbeque joint. The gravy was hearty, but not so much as to mask the complexities of the seasonings used for the foie gras. Rather, it was more oily than creamy and acted as a complementing sauce versus a dousing agent.
And for dessert: bacon chocolate crunch bars, with a salt & pepper anglaise
I do believe that this is the dessert that put animal on the map. The layers of light milk chocolate with little crisps and a denser dark chocolate section with nuts are topped with chopped bacon bits. The sweetness of the milk chocolate, the bitterness of the dark, the saltiness of the bacon, and the two different crunches from the crisp rice and nuts - my tastebuds were having a complete frenzy without even the anglaise thrown in. I found myself picking off pieces one layer at a time to even begin to comprehend the mix of flavors and textures in a seemingly simple dessert. I mean, how complex could bacon with chocolate be?
So we left the restaurant with stomachs satisfied but not too full, and wallets significantly lighter. I would still go back in a heartbeat, though. The weird mix of ingredients and the play on sweet and salty-food combinations that animal does so well leaves me craving for more.