I spent this New Years Eve in Los Angeles with my friend, KJ. We agreed that the best way to spend the night would be over a gluttonous dinner, preceded and followed by some delicious champagne. Since we were staying in West Hollywood, I suggested going to one of my favorite LA restaurants, Animal. I had only dined here once previously, but had also been to their other restaurant, Son of a Gun. I remembered being enchanted by their unique menus, and was very impressed with the wine selection. So naturally, it was the perfect fit for our New Years Eve meal!
Animal’s menu is made of many small dishes that are meant to be shared, and luckily for me, KJ is as adventurous of an eater as I am. We poured over the menu for what seemed like half an hour before finally deciding on six choice dishes: chicken liver toast, jack rabbit larb, rib-eye carpaccio, farrotto with katsoubushi, sweetbreads, and veal tongue. It was the perfect combination of proteins and flavors.
I brought a 2007 Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages to enjoy the meal with, and while it may not have paired perfectly with everything it was certainly a delicious wine. We sipped on some Bordeaux Blanc and Macon-Milly-Lamartine while we let the red open up in the decanter, and they paired excellently with our first few dishes.
My favorite dish was the veal tongue. They prepared it like a piece of pastrami, served with pickled gherkins, salmon roe, and black mustard. When you put a little bit of everything in one bite, it was perfection. My second favorite dish was the farrotto: a porridge like dish topped with katsoubushi, or dried, fermented fish flakes – the same thing used in my favorite Japanese dish, Okonomiyaki. Even though I was nearly full by the time it came out, I couldn’t stop eating it. The rest of the dishes were also excellent, with the sweetbreads being my least favorite because the deep fried batter took away a bit from the meat flavor.
Although we were stuffed to the gills, our waiter convinced us to splurge for the cheesecake pudding with passionfruit, which was surprisingly light and airy. No regrets! How can you not finish off a meal like this with something sweet?
The wait staff matched the outstanding quality of the ingredients and presentation, and at no point did we feel rushed to leave our table (we stayed for 2.5 hrs) – which meant a lot on New Years Eve! If you’re in LA, I highly recommend visiting West Hollywood to check out this fantastic restaurant. And be sure to order the veal tongue!