Animal is a stealthy creature. It has no signage, just a simple black storefront a few doors down from the famous Canter's Deli on Fairfax.
The little place envelops you in warmth. The decor is simple but inviting. The service is friendly and familiar. Our dude Solomon gave us great recommendations.
We tried a bottle of the Animal house red wine ($21). Animal house. Heh.
Mr. Monkey had an Abita root beer ($5) and a Mexican Coke in the bottle ($4).
Animal's strength lies in its appetizers, which are reminiscent of the small plates at AOC.
I dare say Animal may be my new favorite small plates place. Yes, better than my beloved AOC. The dishes are less expensive, larger, and just incredible!
I will go in increasing order of deliciousness for our appetizers. All were delectable, but the best were seriously out of this world.
Ricotta gnocchi with sage brown butter and butternut squash ($10).
Instead of being full nuggets of potato, these gnocchi were stuffed with cheeserrific happiness. Sure to win over any pasta and cheese lover.
Poutine with oxtail gravy and Vermont cheddar ($14).
Do you like chili cheese fries? Consider these the French-Canadian version. Hearty and satisfying, but we all wished there had been more cheese.
Melted petit basque and chorizo with garlic bread ($10).
Oh. Em. Gee. This rich smooth sheep's milk cheese infused with spicy sausage was bubbling hot and so damn good. A must-order, even in third place amongst our five apps.
Then there were the pork dishes. Oh, you pork dishes! I am still thinking about you two days later! It was a tough call which was better. We were not in total agreement.
Mr. Monkey favored the pork ribs with balsamic, pecans, delicata squash, and rocket salad ($15).
Fall-off-the-bone-amazing. Like totally off the bone clean. Tender. Juicy. Heaven.
Brother Monkey and I gave the edge to the pork belly with kimchi, peanuts, and chili soy ($10).
So rich and luscious and crispy and mmmmm-inducing. All of us kept asking aloud, "Why is this so good?!" We were still talking about these pork dishes the next day when we got together again with Mr. Monkey's side of the family.
Crazy yummy. See?
Our entrees were very good, but they didn't shine like the apps. The apps just kicked too much ass in comparison!
Flatiron steak with Pabst Blue Ribbon fondue, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and crispy leeks ($25).
I especially liked the PBR fondue and crispy leeks.
Rabbit, cannellini beans, carrots, turnips, chive, and lemon ($25).
Excellent preparation of rabbit -- much better than my experience at Grace.
But wait! There's more! We Monkeys have a separate stomach for dessert!
Bacon chocolate crunch bar with salt and pepper anglaise ($8).
I was intrigued by the bacon part, but this wasn't very tasty. Don't get sucked in by the bacon like I did. Also, the chocolate was so real and so rich that it did a number on me later (read: Hive Central when I got home). I am so stupid about food. Shame on me.
Joe's cinnamon sugar doughnuts with chocolate sauce ($8).
Now these were awesome. Freshly made, warm, sugary, and droolworthy.
I am already looking forward to my next visit to Animal, whenever that may be. I think it was one of our best meals this year, and you should run there before it gets super popular. Gorge yourself on a boatload of appetizers. I guarantee you will thank me.