Animal

I dined at Animal when it first opened in 2008.  I loved the meal and immediately thought, I can't wait to come back again and see what else theses guys can do.  Five years later, I made my return.

uring my hiatus, chefs and owners, John Shook and Vinny Dototola did not stand by idly waiting for me.  They opened the seafood version of Animal, Son of a Gun in 2011, and just recently partnered with French chef Ludo Lefebvre to launch a whole new spot, complete with pre-purchased dinner tickets called Trois Mec.  I have a lot of catching up to do.

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The simple, cement, box interior stands as it did on my first visit.  I also instantly recalled how loud that box can get when there's nothing on the floors or walls to buffer the sound.  With a big group, eager to try it all - from head to toe, or tail, we jumped right in and sampled a good portion of the menu.  Here's the parade of plates.

It may look like a funyun, but it's much more fun than that when the Animal guys put their spin on it.  This is actually a spicy beef tendon chip with charred onion pho dip.  A fun way to start the meal.

It may look like a funyun, but it's much more fun than that when the Animal guys put their spin on it.  This is actually a spicy beef tendon chip with charred onion pho dip.  A fun way to start the meal.

Basic egg roll?  Guess again.  Shrimp and rabbit sausage spring roll with mizuna, green curry.

Basic egg roll?  Guess again.  Shrimp and rabbit sausage spring roll with mizuna, green curry.

One of the few meatless dishes we had - delicious kampachi tostada with herb and a fish sauce vinaigrette.  Those could have been funyons on top.

One of the few meatless dishes we had - delicious kampachi tostada with herb and a fish sauce vinaigrette.  Those could have been funyons on top.

Of course I had to order the chicken liver toast.  I always have to get as close as I can to our banned foie gras and this appeased me well.

Of course I had to order the chicken liver toast.  I always have to get as close as I can to our banned foie gras and this appeased me well.

One of the sleeper hits that they could just phone in, but the bread had the right parts soft and crisp for holding the well balanced pork belly and slaw.

One of the sleeper hits that they could just phone in, but the bread had the right parts soft and crisp for holding the well balanced pork belly and slaw.

If you've been nervous to try sweetbreads in the past, then here's a great starter dish for you.  The Kung pao spices filled it with so much flavor, you had to ask again what you were eating.

If you've been nervous to try sweetbreads in the past, then here's a great starter dish for you.  The Kung pao spices filled it with so much flavor, you had to ask again what you were eating.

Here's another dish I wasn't expecting much from since the description just mentioned duck breast and charred cabbage, but the duck was melt in your mouth, perfectly pink and barely needed the dollop of mustard provided, but was in fact, further enhanced because of it.

Here's another dish I wasn't expecting much from since the description just mentioned duck breast and charred cabbage, but the duck was melt in your mouth, perfectly pink and barely needed the dollop of mustard provided, but was in fact, further enhanced because of it.

If you've also been skeptical about eating veal brains, try their version which infuses the Indian spices of Vadouvan for a beautifully fried sweetness that only gets better with a swirl through the apricot puree.

If you've also been skeptical about eating veal brains, try their version which infuses the Indian spices of Vadouvan for a beautifully fried sweetness that only gets better with a swirl through the apricot puree.

This beef heart was so tender and included an interesting, if not over powering pairing, of dill-creme fraiche.  The homemade potato chips were a nice added bonus and crunch.

This beef heart was so tender and included an interesting, if not over powering pairing, of dill-creme fraiche.  The homemade potato chips were a nice added bonus and crunch.

Nothing wrong with a little poutine with oxtail gravy.

Nothing wrong with a little poutine with oxtail gravy.

These are pig tails, "buffalo style" with celery and ranch.

These are pig tails, "buffalo style" with celery and ranch.

We had to save room for a little Animal style dessert of bacon chocolate crunch bar, which I would have loved a little more bacon on - yes, even after all that meat I just ate.

We had to save room for a little Animal style dessert of bacon chocolate crunch bar, which I would have loved a little more bacon on - yes, even after all that meat I just ate.

Suffice it to say, that the Animal guys are still going strong after 5 years.  They're pushing the envelope and pairing bold flavors with all body parts and organs.  I thoroughly enjoyed the meal and look forward to another before they open yet another restaurant.

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