Sunday, February 3, 2019

Animal (Restaurant) - Tres - Los Angeles

One of my favorite restaurants is Animal in Los Angeles. I first went in April 2014 for Judy's birthday, went for the second time in April 2017 for my birthday, and went for the third time in January 2019 with a friend who is undergoing chemo treatments for cancer. The drive to and from Animal was as fun as dinner, as my friend is a great conversationalist.  

Of the nine plates we shared, I'd only tried two of them previously. One of the two was pig ears with red chili, lime and an over-easy egg. The pig ears come covered by the egg with the red chili on top. The pig ears are cut into thin strips with the skin side very crispy and the inner meat more moist. We were instructed to mix it all up. This dish, the last one we ate before our dessert, was the only one that my friend said "no more" to after only one or two bites. I think head-games and the crispy texture did him in. I have said previously that pig ears would be perfect for watching the Super Bowl, and as the Super Bowl is today, I will watch wishing I had some pig ears to munch on.
An egg covered with chili sauce covers the pig ears. 
The long, curly, crispy pig ear pieces stand out after it has all been mixed up.
The second dish I'd tried previously was sweet breads with creamed spinach, hen of the woods mushrooms, capers and brown butter. This was both of our favorite dish, by a long shot, and a favorite when I had it before. Sweetbreads are the thymus or pancreas of a calf or lamb and are wonderfully moist, breaded and savory/sweet, with creamed spinach which complements it nicely. 
We tried more "vegetarian" (some of them had animal fat incorporated in) options than I have tried previously and Animal is called Animal for a reason - they are good at cooking animals. The vegetarian dishes are not their strong suit. They are good, but not good enough to drive two hours for. 

Butterbeans, garlic bone broth, dill pickle and gribenes (chicken or goose skin cracklings similar to pork rinds). The dish was unusual, different and tasted good, the beans stood out and had a rich flavor. I would have liked more quantity, we really had just a few bites. 
The dill pickle stands out, the butter beans peek out and the gribenes are the fuzzy covering in the center of the dish. 
Winter citrus, mild flavored Castelvetrano olives from Sicily, white onion, capers and chili vinegar. I think the citrus was grapefruit, but it was not sour at all, so I suppose it could have been some sort of orange, but it wasn't really sweet. I'm guessing that the vinegar muted the sour. It was probably the most ordinary of all of our dishes.   
I'm not sure what the leaf in the center of each citrus is - the flavor did not stand out. 
My favorite of the vegetarian dishes was charred cabbage country captain-style. Country captain-style  is a mild stew made with browned chicken pieces, onions and curry powder with added almonds, golden raisins or zante currants, cooked all in the same pot. It is southern U.S. cooking with roots in India. The cabbage was mostly soft, but with a little bit of push-back, and with sections of significant char. I don't believe there was any actual chicken in the dish, but I believe there was chicken fat which added taste and complemented the texture. 
The dish that was both of our second favorite was tandoori octopus with tamarind, yogurt and kumquat. The octopus arms were quite long and thick, more-so than any octopus I've had before. It was cooked nicely, the octopus was not rubbery at all. I've not had octopus cooked in these kinds of spices and it grew on me as I ate it. 
Sea scallops, leche de tigre, brown butter and fennel consisted of four lightly braised scallops, very tender and moist. Leche de tigre is a citrus-based spicy marinade used in Peruvian ceviche. I was expecting the very strong and biting lime wallop in Peruvian ceviche and got none of that. It was very mild. I would have liked it more if it had been more citrusy and strong. 
Battered and fried quail, grits and maple bacon jus grew on me. My first reaction was one of disappointment with the quail, which seemed like a Kentucky fried version of quail. But the sweet sauce mixed with the grits was a wonderful complement to the quail and probably competes with the cabbage as my third favorite dish. 
Quail and grits
My friend selected the dessert plate, something I thought we were going to skip, but it was perfect. I don't have it written down, but it was a sorbet with a very light green apple taste. There were small bits of apple and a very slight and subtle sweet apple taste. It melted very quickly, so I'm not sure what the base was. I liked it a lot. 
Animal was very, very loud as usual, dinner lasted about two hours, as usual, and I came away happy to have been there again, as usual. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure how something is vegetarian if it has animal fat in it. Maybe "almost vegetarian." It looks like quite a spread. I'm glad you found a partner in crime to share it with.