A long time coming, I finally made it to ANIMAL tonight. Based on chowhound reviews, media coverage, overall hype, I have to say this was a restaurant that met expectations -- did not exceed, nor did it disappoint, by any means. The dishes were exactly how I envisioned and expected them to be....for the most part...
Food: B+ (dinner mates would rate it higher)
Service: B (a bit disinterested and overwhelmed)
Would I go back?: Sure
Atmo: B+ (bit loud, but considering the size of place, I did not feel tables were right on top of each other)
Full Menu: http://animalmenu.wordpress.com/
Wine: Syrah Copain 2007 $45 B+ very nice bottle
We had around 10 dishes between the four of us:
Chicken Liver Toast $3 C-
I actually found this unedible, though my tablemates loved the chicken liver...the problem I had was the chicken liver was simply overpowering. Digging for a compliment, twice I said the one I made recently was better, but was received with silence from friends. I did like the carmelized onions on top.
Marrow bone, chimichurri, carmelized onions $9 C+
I am a big Marrow bone fan, but the chimuchurri sauce was just too tart. I think I like the bone cut vertical, but I haven't it enough this way to make a final decision.
Pig Ear, chili, lime, fried egg $11 C+
I was really looking forward to trying this after having Lazy Ox's amazing fried pig ears (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7037...). Unfortunately, this version lacked the succulence and crispness of Lazy Ox's pig ears. These felt smaller, and the lime / chili which it was already bathed in made it slightly soggy - made even more soggy by the fried egg with yolk oozing out. Once again, my friends - who also dined at Lazy Ox with me -- strong disagreed.
BBQ Pork Belly Sawndwich, slaw 2 for $12 B+
The sandwiches on a mini brioche were very good with the pork staying nice and crisp under the bbq sauce and cole slaw...one thing Animal gets very right is their bread (though none was on table at beginning) - all perfectly toasted with correct chew.
Lamb meatballs, gold rice, green garbanzos, creme fraiche $12 B+
Solid moist meatball full of gamy lamb flavor
open faced soft shll crab sandwich, rooster aioli $14 A
One of my favorites of the night -- the creamy slaw on the BBQ pork sandwich makes a return. The bread (like a sourdough, but it had a hint of sweetness), that sat below the crab and slaw, was again perfectly toasted and not soggy given the top coat. Crab was very good.
quail fry, grits, chard, slab bacon, maple jus $15 B+
nicely crisped quail bathing in nice maple sauce...small portion
foie gras, biscuit, maple suasage gravy, $22 A-
This dish truly represented, my overall feelings on Animal -- if anyone who has read chow reviews or press coverage on the place -- knows that one of their specialities is this dish. And quite simply, if you can visual foods taste like I like to do -- this dish is EXACTLY what one would expect (though not necessarily exceed)...each component was very strong: foie gras good quaility, Biscuit perfect, and maple sausage gravy sweet and savory. Price point was a bit high for one biscuit, foie and gravy.
crispy rabbit legs, peas, purslance, benton's bacon, meye lemon aioli $26 B+
nice dish -- but you can't help having that visual of a rabbit in your 5th grade class. I don't care how many times I eat rabbit -- it always lingers...and don't deny it yourself.
pound cake, macerated strawberries cream $7 B+
bacon chocolate crunch bar $7 B+