We ate at the restaurant Animal in Los Angeles for the second time (our first time was three years ago) and were able to try new dishes that were fun.
Anshu Pathak and his wife, Claudia, joined us. They are adventurous eaters and enjoy their food which makes the experience that much more fun. Animal serves small plates that are eaten family style, so you get little tastes of lots of dishes.
|Claudia, Anshu and Judy in front of Animal.|
|With Anshu in front of Animal.|
Our first dish was probably my least favorite: gem lettuce, yellow beet, feta, pita, sumac and a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. I always love yellow beets, but this dish was pretty bland.
The next dish was an interesting mixture of crispy pig ears covered by an over-medium egg with a red chili sauce slathered on. This seemed to be a universal favorite. The pig ears have a very nice texture and flavor. Nothing off-putting about them at all.
Pork rillette is pork cooked slowly in fat and is similar to pate. It came with a Gjusta baguette (Gjusta is an LA bakery), grainy mustard and cornichons. Cornichons are pickles made from small cucumbers and known as gherkins in England. This was one of the more interesting combinations. The pork rillette reminded me of a fatty version of pulled pork. Anshu really seamed to enjoy this dish. I thought it was okay.
Sirloin carpaccio is thinly sliced raw sirloin. It was served with Savoy cabbage, sesame and kochukaru (a Korean red chili powder). The red chili powder gave it a bit of a kick and vinegar made it moist. I loved this dish and Judy seemed to particularly like it as well.
P'tit Basque is a 70 day aged French sheep cheese. The cheese was melted over chorizo and served with grilled bread. It had a nice taste, but is not as unusual as some of the other dishes. On that basis, it was not one of my favorites.
The dish that was the most spectacularly visually was veal tongue served with pickle pieces, apple juice, salmon roe and black mustard. the dollop of white was a creamy horseradish. It looked like it was slapped together by a modern artist. I think this was a favorite of Claudia, although the horseradish was a bit spicy for her. The taste was fine, but not anywhere near as good as the artistry.
One of my favorite dishes was sweetbreads (brains) with creamed spinach, hen of the woods mushrooms, capers and brown butter. This was a great melding of ingredients and there was nothing off-putting at all about the brains. The creamy spinach worked well with the coated and fried brains, almost like fish sticks, and the capers added a nice saltiness. For anyone squeamish about eating brains, this would be a great way to start, particularly if you had no idea what you were eating. This dish is real culinary mastery.
The only repeat dish from our last time at Animal was the beef marrow bone covered with chimichurri and caramelized onions. I think Animal does marrow bone as well as anyone. Another favorite.
Poutine originated in Quebec and is French fries and cheese curds topped with light brown gravy. Animal's version has large chunks of cheddar and is covered in a very dark and rich oxtail gravy. Not as unusual as most of the dishes, but wonderful tasting. I loved this combination.
The biggest disappointment for me was the fried rabbit legs served with white gravy on rice with lemon pepper. Colored carrot slices made a nice visual, but the rabbit was over-cooked. Judy's comment was that it tasted like dry chicken. It was also one of the more expensive dishes. I would avoid this one.
The last dish, and by far the most expensive, was a bone-in ribeye served in a foie gras sauce and separate potato aligot (mashed potatoes served with melted cheese that is very gooey). I was most interested in this dish to see Anshu's reaction. Anshu sells high-high end steaks to clients all over the world and there aren't many people that know steak as well as he does. The crust on this steak was quite good, savory and salty and I assume infused with foie gras. However, the meat itself was quite chewy in spots and not the melt-in-your mouth steak that Anshu is used to dealing with. Anshu ate a few bites and let the rest alone. I ate quite a bit and enjoyed it, but realized that the cut of meat was not up to the price charged for it.
Overall,it was a wonderful night out with four people who love to eat and that have adventurous tastes. A memorable meal for me.