Son of a Gun

Hear ye hear ye!  The guys behind LA’s beloved Animal restaurant have opened up a new place!

First of all, if you haven’t been to Animal, you’re missing out.  Think of it as an ode to bacon, the restaurant equivalent to a meatlover’s pizza, a shrine to swine… Wow, that last one was bad, even for me.  So when I heard they were opening up a restaurant for seafood-lovers, I was all, “Sign me up!”

After a two-week wait for our reservation for four, we (the husband, comic book artist extraordinaire Mike Choi and his wife Michelle) arrived on a Sunday night to a slammed hostess stand, packed tables, and a cacophony of happy hungry chatter.  The motif is sea-inspired, anchors and sailboats and old photos of even older movie stars holding up their catch for the camera. There’s even one of Humphrey Bogart SMILING, which I didn’t think he knew how to do! The menu has a few things you would expect– a lobster roll, oysters on the half shell, peel and eat shrimp– and a few you wouldn’t, like alligator schnitzel.  Yum?

Mike Choi, Michelle, and Moi
The Menu

We decided to put our wonderful, friendly and knowledgeable server (love it when that happens) to the task of deciding for us while we sipped our cocktails: a really great sauvignon blanc for me, champagne for Matt, and a pina colada for Choi (go ahead and judge him here).

Our first course was a couple of orders of the lobster rolls and two of the shrimp toast sandwiches.  I started with the sandwich: succulent shrimp topped with a handful of fresh herbs between two little slices of brown bread oozing with siracha mayo. Tangy, zesty, slightly spicy, and ohmygod glorious.  I could have eaten three more to myself, but that would have been embarrassing.  The lobster roll was also fabulous, cooked to perfection in the softest little brioche bun with lotsa lemon aioli and some celery for crunch. Good start much?

Hello, beautiful.

Next up was a plate of smoked steelhead roe, served in tiny piles atop a maple cream sauce with a pumpernickel crouton on the top.  I know it sounds crazy, but the smokiness offset by the sweetness of the maple just worked.  The next dish was the seafood brandade, a sort of fish and mashed potato concoction (just try it) that’s as creamy and salty as it sounds, topped with a soft-boiled egg and served with a little toast for scooping.

roe your boat

Alligator schnitzel time!  We were a little hesitant, but honestly, what isn’t good breaded and deep fried?  These were like little fried chicken cutlets, only with way more flavor.  The craziest part was the slaw that came with it, tangy and cloying with an almost vanilla-like hint to it that made the whole deal that much sweeter.  Michelle, who had never eaten a gator in her life, proclaimed it her favorite dish of the night.  So there.

the 'gator

The next dish was the albacore tataki, tender and lovely tuna seared and sliced in a citrus soy sauce.  This was outstanding: fresh, sweet, salty, almost a palate cleanser, it was so delicate.  Our next course was another light and delicate dish, a poached piece of cod in an asian-style broth with just a hint of jalapeno.  It was a little too light for my taste and was missing something rich my taste buds were starting to expect.  But then again, I’m such a sucker for anything rich.

tataki attack!

But then came the steak: a gorgeous piece of Niman Ranch hangar grilled to medium-rare and topped with a perfectly fried succulent oyster and a dollop of bearnaise.  The side of fries we could have done without, which is a sacrilegious thing to say, I know, but they were way way way over salted.  The final dish of the night was one mother of a chicken sandwich, breaded and fried to crispy southern deliciousness with a pile of pickle slaw and a smothering of aioli, all packed into a huge kaiser roll. Delish!  We opted for something refreshing for dessert, a nice lime frozen yogurt with some graham cracker crumbs and a smear of toasted marshmellow on the side.

monster chicken sandwich
He wishes.
lime sorbet with delightful marshmellow smear

No doubt this place is going to be a hit, if it isn’t already.  So the sooner you get on the phone and book a table, the sooner you can have one of those lobster rolls down your gullet.  It’s go time!

15 Comments Add yours

  1. I just discovered/found/unearthed you on Twitter and then came to your blog… I love that it’s an orgy of food and enjoyment.

    A celebrity that enjoys eating and looks great. I’m not going to say “inspirational” (because I’m not Oprah) but hey, it makes for a nice change.

    : )

  2. Old_Warhorse says:

    That sounds absolutely [i]wonderful![/i] I would definitely make the trip to this place if I lived within 100 miles.

    Any chance of you making a trip up here to the Pacific Northwest, say Portland or Seattle? I’d trust your tastebuds to make good recommendations for places to eat!

  3. Ash Sevilla says:

    One of these days I’m going to go fly out to L.A. just to eat the damn food! Animal, the ” shrine to swine” sounds amazing. If I send you a zip-lock baggy can you send me some braised beef? … that’ll be safe right?

  4. Jonathan from Clutch says:

    Your tales of tastes are getting better all the time. You do realize that before long they’ll be doing the “Jewel Staite Restaurant Tasting Tour”. Forget a star, having a tour named after you, now that’s success!

  5. fojoy says:

    This place looks good…but a “shrine to swine”???
    Yes, please!

  6. Vanessa Randolph says:

    Any time I am feeling sleepy or down I read this blog and I get a stupid smile on my face. It’s amazing. The descriptions of the food are enough to make anyone wake up from their Monday morning stupor and either dream of going to Paris or dream of leaving work to find some food. I’m glad there is someone else who loves food as much as I do and who spends their time seeking out the best places and reporting back.

    If I come to Vancouver/LA, travel to Paris or any of these other places I am sure I am going to use your blog as an eating guide. It’s too good.

  7. Ashley says:

    I’m from Florida, and when I worked at a small family-run pizza restaurant we did, in fact, serve alligator-topped pizzas. It’s a concept that sounds disgusting but is surprisingly tasty! Glad you and your friends aren’t afraid of a little adventure along with your food. 🙂

  8. Mandie says:

    Mmmm…anaphylaxis on a plate (shellfish allergy).

  9. AJ says:

    Fried alligator is something I haven’t had in too long. I should have gone to Animal when I lived near LA, and Son of a Gun sounds like everything I like.
    So glad you’re doing these reviews.

  10. Martin says:

    Jewel… you’re a very talented actress, but you missed your calling! You should be writing for the “Paris Review!”
    Keep On…

  11. AllieMcNally says:

    Sounds wonderful! I’ve tried alligator once, but I don’t remember how it tasted. I must try again! Also, your blog has inspired me to start trying the taster menus when we go out to eat. I love to try new foods, so that would be an easy way to accomplish the goal. 🙂 Thanks for another lovely mouthwatering post!

  12. Anais says:

    I was kind of iffy on the whole alligator nuggets… but when you said “What isn’t good breaded and deep fried?” I had to agree… I still wouldn’t eat it. I have a thing about which animals I put in my belly. For instance: the meat product cannot look like the animal it came from. That means no bones.

  13. Anais says:

    Also, It sounds like its decorated like Red Lobster…. but better.

  14. slamaina says:

    A couple years back, we were on a family vacation down in Florida where we did a tour of an alligator farm. At the end of the day we went to the restaurant where, not surprisingly, alligator was one the menu. We ordered dinner plus ordered the fried alligator platter to try. We commented that it didn’t “taste just like chicken” but it taste “exactly” like chicken and we liked it. We ordered more. It didn’t taste the same and didn’t quite look the same. It sort of tasted like chicken. It turned out that the waitress brought us a fried chicken tender basket by mistake the first time.


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