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Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time

When my cousin Eric proposed that we forgo the normal Christmas festivities (namely the “troublesome” present exchange) for a simpler Christmas where everyone’s gift would be a good dinner, I was skeptical. I mean, let’s be honest. I like presents. Obviously. And as the youngest child in my family, I have to tell you I felt pretty cheated because everyone else has had at least 4 more present-full Christmases than I have. Totally unfair. To make things more worse, I was somehow put in charge of choosing the restaurant we would eat at and making the reservation. I guess in the end this part of the deal wasn’t such a bad thing because I chose Animal restaurant in Fairfax, a place I’ve been wanting to go to for a while now…mostly due to their famous Chocolate Bacon Crunch Bar, pictured above. We’ll get back to that later.

The restaurant serves their food “small plates” style, which we later figured out isn’t ideal for a party of 7. Alternately, it would be an awesome pick for a group of 2 or 3, because everyone gets at least a couple bites of each dish instead of the 1 or 2 we got.

I’ve heard Animal described as the place that serves “fine dining for carnivores” and it certainly lived up to that title. They specialize in cuts of meat that are less than popular on your average menu, but that real meat lovers all around the world love. Our menu ended up looking a little something like this at the end of the night:

  • marrow bone, chimichurri, caramelized onions
  • barbeque pork belly sandwiches, slaw
  • pig ear, chili, lime, fried egg
  • hamachi tostada, herbs, fish sauce vinaigrette, peanut sauce
  • veal brains, vadouvan, apple sauce, carrots
  • poutine, oxtail gravy, cheddar
  • balsamic pork ribs, delicata squash, apple
  • grilled octopus, chorizo, chow chow
  • uni, cucumber, finger lime
  • foie gras, biscuit, maple sausage gravy
  • flat iron, sunchoke hash, truffle parmesan fondue
  • foie gras loco moco, quail egg, spam, hamburger
  • thai barbequed quail

All were fairly good–I admit that I didn’t venture to try the veal brain or the octopus (because I’m just not a fan), but my favorites were the flat iron steak (the cheese was amazing), the poutine (which is a Canadian staple of fries, gravy, and meat, but this version was fancy and super delicious), and the hamachi tostada (which was fresh, light and zesty).

The bacon chocolate crunch bar was in a league of its own. Layers of rich, dense chocolate mousse and what seemed to be pieces of nougat or wafers were amazingly accented by small chunks of bacon on the top. Basically, it was FREAKING DELICIOUS. The bacon isn’t as prominent as you might think, but its saltiness offsets the richness of the chocolate perfectly.

After this dinner and dessert, I proceeded to consume another dinner and 2 more desserts at some friends’ houses, easily making this the fattest winter break I’ve ever had.

To sum things up, Christmas eve ended up being pretty cool despite the lack of presents, Animal is pretty delicious, but not for such a big group of people, 2 dinners are better than 1, and 3 desserts are DEFINITELY MUCH, MUCH better than 1.


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