Imagine this scenario: 5 girls, 3 bottles of house Chardonnay, 10 starters, and 3 entrees. There is no other phrase for that besides: Girls Gone Wild. Also, all but 2 of those dishes were meat based, so these girls surely got their meat on. Where did we have this meat-astic frenzy? Why it was at Animal, of course. In the month prior to my move from LA to SF, I managed to hit a ton of LA restaurants that I have been dying to try. I am a girl with priorities and, thankfully, I have friends that were all eager to cross of my list with me. Several weeks ago, we arrived at Animal for what we be a very long and very large meal. We missed their special vegetarian tasting menu by guest chef Jeremy Fox by one day, and I can’t say that I was bummed. As much as I drooled over The Delicious’ vegetable laden post, I wanted the true Animal experience with a lot of meat. We arrived at the restaurant and all were summoned to the very crowded bar because we would not be seated until the whole party arrived. I understand rules, but the bar was packed. When the last of our party arrived we finally were seated, where we were greeted by our waiter. My ex boyfriend used to say that your first encounter with your waiter or waitress will set the tone for the entire meal. I suppose it is similar to how women on dates will decide within seconds if they would ever sleep with the man before them. Unfortunately, this waiter was doomed for awkwardness. Our first encounter was one of the strangest interchanges regarding their cheapest bottle of wine, which obviously we got at $20 a bottle. He kept asking how many glasses we wanted because two of the girls already had glasses from the bar. We explained that everyone would be drinking the bottle we ordered and so we should all have glasses. I guess the confusion lied in the fact that he wanted to ID the ones that didn’t already have a glass but it was the most roundabout way of asking. It required us to all sigh, say “Oh, that’s what you wanted” and whip our IDs out. We then were told that everything, with the exception of dessert, had to be ordered right away at the same time. Another rule, which was fine but it was many of our first times and we didn’t know how much to get and we were just told we couldn’t add on more. Like a true democracy of friends, foodies, and females we went down the menu and voted on each item. Here is what we ended up with:
The carrot salad, parsnip chips, green goddess, avocado was the first dish up and was one of the only non-meat items that we ordered. It was light and crunchy and a perfect way to end the ordering awkwardness and start the meal. Minty was the only one of us that had been there before and she insisted on this salad. I was glad we voted this dish in. A shaved carrot salad was a nice intro to a meat heavy meal.
The chicken liver toast was the next dish up and was more of the food I was expecting; meaty, fatty, and far heavier. I am not a huge liver fan so I took a piece and stopped there. However, the rest of my table absolutely loved this dish.
I have always loved corn nuts and the crispy hominy, lime was like the grown up version of them. They were light and had the lime tang that I squeezed on. I often say that I am capable of ingesting the most insane quantity of popcorn and this fried hominy was just as addictive. It went from handful to mouthful in seconds flat. I also thought I was extremely clever by saying “Peace, Love, and Hominy” with every bite, I am punny.
The next dish was the open faced soft shell crab sandwich, b & b pickle slaw, rooster aioli. I loved the slaw on this dish and the soft shell crab was on a nice piece of Texas toast.
The squid, fava bean salad, bagna cauda wasn’t bad, but it was one of the weaker plates that surfaced.
And from a low light we went straight to a major highlight of the meal, the marrow bone, chimichurri, caramelized onions. I used to think that Church & State had the best bone marrow in town but boy was I wrong. This dish was the mission fruition of the meal. I have never had bone marrow this good. The chimichurri was a perfect accompaniment to the marrow. Is it just me or is Chimichurri the Argentinian equivalent to Tabbouleh? The meat was so flavorful and the onions and parsley were so delicious. This was the show stopper for me, and I am so sad I discovered it right before leaving LA. If I wasn’t in a restaurant setting and sharing with so many girls I would have gnawed on this bone for hours….like I said Girls Gone Wild
The foie gras, biscuit, maple sausage gravy was another out of this world dish. This, my friends, would make the most perfect breakfast of champions. The foie was nicely seared and as delicate as you can imagine. The biscuit was not simply with maple, as you see in a McGriddle, this was a real flaky biscuit trenched in the sweetest gravy. Trust me, I worked hard to know that each bite of this dish was well soaked.
Perhaps it was because we shared all of the dishes, I only really remember the bun and slaw on the barbecue pork belly sandwiches. I have no recollection of this meat. That means 1 of 2 things, either it wasn’t memorable or there was no meat on my sandwich bite.
I do remember the poutine, oxtail gravy, cheddar, because it is that famous Canadian dish that Minty was so looking forward to. Unfortunately, this dish let us all down, it was way too salty.
The quail fry, grits, chard, slab bacon, maple jus, on the other hand, was perfect. The Brit among the group was quoted as saying that the quail tastes as though it has gone on holiday and is getting laid. The meat was tender under the fried goodness and it was on top of a bed of pleasure. I blame this shaky camera work on my subject that was too busy laying there and getting ready to be ravaged.
I know that this will shock you but us girls did show some restraint. We only ordered 3 entrees. I wanted the flat iron, artichoke hash, truffle parmesan fondue. As soon as this dish was set on our table all you got was the most enormous whiff of truffle. It overpowered the air and this dish. I think, by now, everyone knows that everyone knows that I love artichokes and rabbit, so whenever either is on the menu I will order it. This was a heavy dish but my god was it gorgeous. Nothing that is cheese smothered is ever bad and this was not the exception.
Ah yes, I have already fully discussed my love for rabbit and have made all the double entendres to the toy with the same name but trust me this dish was picked out right away. AK missed one of my best rabbit experiences at Campanile a few months back and so she ordered this in honor of me. I love friends. The crispy rabbit legs, peas, dandelion, meyer lemon aioli had all of the joys of spring. It was fresh, the meat was moist, and is was just a perfect invigorating dish.
The foie gras loco moco, quail egg, spam, hamburger was the last of the entrees we ordered. It was an Animal staple, combining the oddest ingredients from canned “meat” to the most gourmet of meats. I don’t even know how to describe this dish and perhaps Animal did best with the word loco. This dish be mad crazy and crazy delicious.
There were some real stand out dishes in this meal, but my god the service was weird. Minty had made a comment on how each bottle of the same wine was different. The second being the most delicious. It is entirely possible as wine varies from bottle to bottle. When she made a comment to the waiter about this he said that was impossible and blamed her for having drank too much and having a tarnished palate from the food…whatever. To his credit, AK did ask if he was pregnant so I am sure he didn’t love our table. Anyway, the food was great in spite of the service. The night was so memorable for me because it was real girl time with some fantastic friends I have made in LA. I may have been the youngest at the table but when the conversation moved to Twlight (as will happen in any Girls Night Out) I said I was Team Joseph. This caused the girls to scream and laugh and tell me it was Team Jacob. I completely and utterly fail at being a teen bopper. Fortunately, I rule at eating a ton of meat and having a Girls Gone Wild night!
Links to my dining companions:
Nicola a Brit, eater, and a marathon runner.