Can I have some pork, with a side of pork, and can you sprinkle some pork in there too? Animal, the new restaurant from former Food Network hosts Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, has finally opened. Its daily changing menu of seasonal dishes is a meat lover’s paradise, especially if you like pork. We arrive at 8:30 sans reservations but it’s no problem to seat our party of 3. There’s not much to the restaurant. A simple box design, light bulbs poking out of the wall with a concrete floor, closely crowded wood tables and a bar sitting against the back wall. But the focus here is on the menu and wine, and that’s just fine by me.
We start with a drink at the copper top bar. We study the wonderful and unique wine selection and I settle on a glass of Silover Ojo Rojo Cuvee Uno ($12). They have over 25 red and whites by the glass to choose from, wonderful indeed.
We’re seated shortly after by the friendly hostess. I drool over the menu for several minutes, then we finally decide on some appetizers. We start with the shaved asparagus ($12) with bacon, grana, croutons and a poached egg on top. The pork ribs ($15) with balsamic and giardeneria were wonderful, the meat fell of the bone as we bit into the ribs. We also order the soft shell crab ($18) served over pork belly and drizzled with a chili soy sauce. Everything was full of flavor and simple, yet delicious.
My main course arrives, the fried quail ($23) served atop a bed of long cooked chard, grits, and of course, a slab of bacon. There must have been two quails on my plate, there was so much of it. I usually don’t like cooked greens, but the flavor was so exciting I ate it all. My mother would be proud.
No meal is complete without desert, the problem was deciding which of the five I wanted. I could have tried each one, and that’s rare for me. So we settle on the bellwether ricotta drizzled with honey and served with toast ($8). We also got the white peach and blueberry crisp. Oven baked and topped with a whipped cream fraiche ($8). It was the perfect end to this warm, almost summer, night.
435 N. Fairfax Ave