• May 18th, 2010quarrygirlanimal, LA restaurants

    eating a vegan meal prepared by a world-renowned chef is an extreme privilege, which is why i strongly suggest you check out the vegetable dinners at animal that are taking place every night this week.

    the normally very meat-heavy restaurant is halting business as usual “to join forces with Chef Jeremy Fox for seven nights of an exclusive prixe fix, multi course collaboration of vegetables paired with thoughtfully chosen wine & beer.” the menu is entirely vegetarian, but can be modified to be made vegan (just be sure to ask), and costs $70 per person with optional wine pairings for $35 or $70.

    after hearing nothing but rave reviews for chef jeremy fox and his former restaurant ubuntu, i knew i had to go to this. i mean, why would a restaurant called ANIMAL stop serving carcass for a whole week, unless it was for a very special menu. i booked a table for the opening night with my vegan chef buddy, and while the place was still ironing out a few kinks, i can safely say the food and service were phenomenal.

    our reservation was at 6pm (right when the restaurant opened), and even then there were a few parties standing around outside, waiting to get in. unfortunately, i was driving so i opted for a single bottle of green flash ipa rather than the wine pairing. after glancing at the somewhat dairy-heavy menu, i let our waitress know that we were vegans, and she assured us that it wouldn’t be a problem. off to a great start!

    macarona almonds: lavender sugar, sea salt, olive oil.

    course number 1 was a plate of macarona almonds to share, and it was incredible. the plump little nuts were seasoned with lavender sugar and sea salt and were perfectly crunchy. the lavender flavor was amazing, and the portion was filling that we didn’t even finish it.

    crunchy french breakfast radishe, black lava salt.

    the second course was also to share, and it was a plate of crunchy “french breakfast” radishes with black lava salt. i don’t even know how to describe this dish, it was so full of unfamiliar flavors. the radishes came on a bed of green sauce, and our waitress said we should dip each one in the sauce before sprinkling on the salt. we both loved it and were practically licking the plate to finish off every drop of the amazing sauce.

    after course 2 is when the kitchen started slow down a bit. the restaurant was getting pretty full and i noticed that diners who arrived much later than us were beginning to catch up with us course-wise. the waitress was very polite and apologetic for the delay, explaining that it was their first night with the menu and they were running a little behind.

    2x-shucked peas in a consomme of the shells: white chocolate, chocolate mint, macadamia.

    when course 3 finally did arrive, it was a bowl of shucked peas in a consomme of the shells. it was exquisitely presented with beautiful little edible flowers, and it tasted incredible too. one thing i can honestly say about animal is that each course the brought out was even better than the last—they just kept on surprising us with how good the food could get.

    'forno' beet baked in a rose geranium salt crust: 'fuerte' avocado, pickled green strawberry, pistachio.

    course 4 was a plate of beets baked in a rose geranium salt crust with avocado, pickled green strawberries, and pistachio. these are without a doubt the best beets i’ve ever eaten, and the green strawberries were the perfect compliment. i mixed them up with the creamy avocado and crunchy pistachio bits, and there was a party goin’ on in my mouth.

    young favas, roasted whole, then shucked: salsa maro of the pods, anchovy 'flavor'.

    course 5 was plate of roasted shucked fava beans atop a salsa maro of the pods. again, this dish was so unique and tasty i don’t even know how to describe it. all i can say is that the “salsa maro of the pods” was straight up insane.

    heirloom carrots rescoldo style, in root embers: vadouvan spices, coconut labneh, parsnip.

    course 6 was a dish of heirloom carrots rescoldo style, in root embers. this came with “coconut labneh,” which i’m pretty sure contains dairy…but our waitress assured us ours was made vegan. the carrots were so wonderfully cooked and the coconut cream was thick and fluffy, again it was a total explosion of great flavors and we loved it.

    roast celtuce stalk: ruta kraut, pumpernickle, horseradish mustard.

    course 7 was roast celtuce stalk in a bowl of ruta-kraut, pumpernickle, and horseradish mustard. i have NO IDEA what celtuce stalk is, but the way jeremy fox makes it is delicious! this dish also normally comes with cheese, but the folks at the vegetable dinners were happy to modify it for us.

    unfortunately, after course 7 me and my dining partner had to take off with 2 courses left to go. you see, the kitchen had become so slow at that point we’d been there for two and a half hours, and we figured the other 2 courses would take half an hour at least. for big parties enjoying a relaxing dining experience and drinking bottles of wine, the long wait may not be a problem. we both had places to be though, so we politely asked our waitress if we could get the check early.

    our waitress totally understood our plight, and was so sorry for the long wait that SHE COMPED ALL OUR FOOD! YES, THAT’S RIGHT. two dinners at $70 each, they gave us FOR FREE because of the delay. now that is damn good customer service. i also want to point out that they had no idea i was a food blogger or anything, this was just a case of animal restaurant being awesome and taking care of their shit. any ounce of annoyance i had over the long wait is completely gone due to the incredible food and epic gesture of a comped meal by the restaurant staff.

    because i’m sure inquiring minds want to know, the last two courses we skipped out on were:

    sweet fennel and puffed wild rice krispie: fennel bulb, ‘page’ mandarin, bronze fennel and toasted brioche and sherry “creme brulee”: fried cornbread, chocolate ganache, shiitake.

    i have no clue how they would have veganized those for us, but i’m sure if we stayed it would have been awesome.

    the vegetable dinners at animal are happening through sunday may 23rd, so i highly suggest you call and make a reservation if you can. (tell them in advance that you’re vegan!) it was busy when were there, but not totally full….so you may still have a chance to get in. plus, there is a bar to sit at that takes walk-ins. don’t miss this. jeremy fox is a fucking genius, and our dinner was amazing. even if we would have paid the full price, it would have been more than worth it. this place puts xiv and bottlerock to shame, so definitely go if you can!

    Animal Restaurant
    435 N. Fairfax Ave.
    Los Angeles, CA 90036
    (323) 782-9225