The last thing I wanted to eat in LA was a plate of meat and offal specialties. Especially in the morning. Imagine waking up to some spam and foie gras at 10 am, who in LA does that? I wanted to be like the Hollywood stars and eat vegan tacos and green juice. Which was why I was a little skeptical of eating at Animal, the restaurant in West Hollywood that’s known for serving up meat bits of all kinds.
But our meal at Animal was not the gut bomb that I was fearing. The menu is balanced so that you can have a more basic brunch of avocado toast or granola if you want, or if you’re feeling up to it, one of poutine and truck stop eggs. We decided to have a blend of the sinful and the saintly, because what’s the point of going to Animal if everything’s all leafy greens?
The dishes at Animal may sound meaty on paper, but in actuality, they’re elegant beasts. Cholesterol levels feel like they’re going up simply from reading the ingredients in the famous foie gras loco moco–stacks on stacks of foie gras, quail egg, spam, hamburger–but the end product is more refined than an out-of-control meat plate. Portions are small and controlled so that you can take on four proteins in one bite, and nothing is overly salted or dripping in fat. But it’s still a little intense to have in the morning.
The carolina gold rice congee for me was a more reasonable and satisfying savory breakfast dish. The porridge was thick and velvety, with ribbons of egg yolk intermingling with the starchy runoff of the cooked rice, and the heat gave the dish a bit of Yankee flair. Spice is in a little bit of everything, fyi. Even in the heirloom tomato in maggi ranch dressing, which looks like a typical summer dish the Barefoot Contessa would make, but then you are pleased to discover the lively accents of onikasu and bonito flakes throughout.
If you want your traditional waffles for breakfast, you can have that too, and again, you won’t be reeling from a stack of inches thick griddle cake slowing you down. These waffles are thin and mealy with just the right proportions of sweet. Animal works with a lot of wild ingredients, but in the end they tame them to just the right levels.
in West Hollywood
435 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036