photo credit: the suite life

animal: a fun foodie adventure on fairfax

photo courtesy of yohei nakajima

photo courtesy of yohei nakajima

We’ve heard about it, we’ve driven by it, our friends have been there, we’ve dined at sister restaurant Son of a Gun, but for one reason or another we hadn’t made it into the unassuming doors of Vinny Dotolo’s Animal before.  Until Wednesday.

Hidden away on Fairfax just a few doors down from Canter’s Deli (and without a sign), we stepped inside the minimally decorated space with white walls and wooden tables and were greeted by our bearded server with a passionate, “Everything on the menu is delicious”.

Reading into the name Animal, I imagined the menu would feature familiar meats like beef and pork alongside more adventurous options like elk, bison, venison, boar, or emu.  Thinking this was going to be a carnivore’s paradise, I was pleasantly surprised to find enough veggie and cheese dishes to suppress my fear of eating nothing but, well…animals.  And instead of those exotic meats I had assumed would be on the menu, they just went ahead and featured all sorts of different beef and pork parts that I had never eaten before.  Until Wednesday.

The order of our shared dishes was skillfully selected and progressed from light to heavy.  After the first four courses, we went back for more (and then dessert).

the spread

  • Kampachi tostada with herbs, fish sauce vinaigrette, peanut – $15
  • Grilled asparagus with green strawberry, pistachio dukkah, lime, shungiku – $13
  • Local burrata cheese, baby broccoli, katsuobushi, green garlic, leeks, jalapeno – $14
  • Marrow bone, chimichurri, carmelized onions, toasted bread  – $9
  • Shrimp and rabbit sausage spring roll, mizuna, green curry – $14
  • Melted petite basque, chorizo, grilled bread – $14
  • Blueberry, frozen brown butter crumble, yogurt, bay leaf ice cream – $8

top nosh

It could be a three-way tie between the kampachi tostada, burrata, and blueberry dessert, but the top nosh honors would have to go to the local burrata.  It was unique in presentation with the green garlic smeared on just half of the bowl and unexpected in the taste and texture of the crunchy leeks and jalapeno juxtaposed with the soft Italian cheese.  The unusual combination seemed serendipitous and we were glad we took our server’s recommendation in ordering it.  (We fought over who got to scrape the bottom of the bowl.)

may we suggest

  • Definitely make reservations in advance or dine a little earlier (around 6) to be assured a table.
  • Animal is a great date spot if you’re looking to impress with your insider knowledge of “foodie” culture, hip LA restaurants, and to show off your adventurous nature.  Go on, order the veal brains.
  • Try something new!  This was our first time trying bone marrow.  Our server cleverly referred to it as “beef butter” and it was delicious when spread on our toast with a bit of the chimichurri to break up the richness.  Tip: If you’re weird about texture like I am, definitely spread it thin or you’ll get a big glob of gelatinous beef bone core.

the specifics

435 North Fairfax, Los Angeles 90036

Sunday-Thursday 6:00pm – 11:00pm
Friday & Saturday 6:00pm – 12:00am

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