OMG. You guys. No. Seriously. YOU GUYS. This place. It’s RIDICULOUS. If you’re a vegetarian, it’s the 3rd circle of hell. If you love meat — and pork in particular — Animal Restaurant in Hollywood-adjacent is nirvana. But we started off with something light:
It was INSANE good — and I’m not even a hamachi lover. (A Harajuku Lover, maybe.) It was firing on all cylinders, tap dancing all over my tongue with transparent slivers of jalapeno, salty peanut, grassy cilantro, crispy tostada, crunchy fried onion, and generous cubes of prime, sweet raw tuna.
And here’s a tip, because your Mother loves you — it’s not on the menu, but pay the $2 for grilled bread. I’ve never had anything quite like it — chewy-crisp with gorgeous grill marks and a lash of melted butter. You can see it here with this cheese n chorizo bowl, that I am TOTALLY getting next time:
We actually started with the bread, and that ALONE made me fall hard for Animal. (Animal eat drums! They actually have a small picture of him over the bar, watching everyone feast on Miss Piggy. Can’t be easy. Good thing the place isn’t called Kermit.)
Okay, I loved these pork belly sliders but they are for SERIOUS PORK LOVERS ONLY. I was glad it was slightly dark because I know I was eating greasy, squishy cubes of pork fat. Animal is justifiably famous for these but I think for me, it’s like seeing Schindler’s List. It’s a one-time thing.
Thanks to my genius pal Michael’s razor-sharp ordering instincts, we followed that up with a delectable quail fry:
It was impeccably crisp fried bird, and the maple, bacon, grits and greens played together so nicely — sweet, salty, creamy, um… healthy? I was literally LICKING the plate when the waiter wrestled it away from me. You probably think we’re done here. You underestimate me.
This is practically Quebec’s national dish, appearing all over Montreal in various iterations, from sophisticated to street vendor. Animal’s version involves perfectly crisp fries, aged cheddar, and an oxtail ‘gravy’ that tastes like it’s been simmering all day with a bouquet garni and a good bottle of red wine, much like a boeuf bourguignon.
When our amazing, friendly well-informed (and did I mention adorable?) waitress Ashley put it in front of us, I think even she trembled a bit for our over-ambitious tummies. We almost finished it. Then, to add insult to gluttony, we (okay, mostly ME) finished with this:
Sadly, our peach raspberry pie was kind of a let-down. The crust was oddly chewy and the fruit — just not enough of it. And the decor is minimal — it’s just one big room — but the service was impeccable and I will forgive these two dudes because CLEARLY, they are focusing on the food:
Luckily, this porcine paradise is in the heart of a super-Jewish neighborhood, with Canter’s just a few doors down and Schwartz’s Kosher Bakery right next door, where I stopped after dinner to buy Michael a black & white cookie. (The girl at Schwartz’s counter wistfully asked me how my dinner was, as if I were an emissary from a fantastic and unknowable land.)
I could write a whole post on how fantastic Schwartz’s is — get the politically incorrect but undeniably delicious Chinaman cookie! — but I’m sorry, I’m still too full. And I leave for Stuff Your Faceville, aka Chicago, tomorrow. Good thing swimsuit season is almost over! Happy Labor Day, everybody.