Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Animal: Poutine is Love


Los Angeles, CA. Cheese and potatoes have gone together since time immemorial, like milk and cookies, eggs and bacon, Hall and Oates. Hearty gratins and baked potatoes oozing melted cheddar eventually begat Velveeta-covered french fries, a blistering, radioactive orange showcase of what American food processing ingenuity could achieve. But in typical American fashion, french fry innovators lost interest soon after adding chili to the mix, moving on to tater tots, deep-fried Oreos, and hot dogs inexplicably injected with cheese before being served to unsuspecting school kids.

Meanwhile, to the North, rural Québécoise kept tinkering through the 1950s. Velveeta? Non! They topped their french fries with a pile of cheese curds. Chili? Zut alors! How gauche. They smothered them in gravy instead. This mess of deliciousness quickly spread throughout Canada, and by the late 1970s the word "poutine" had come to mean "fries with cheese and gravy."

In the past few years, poutine swept through the States, and one of the best I've had is at Animal. Sure, the dish has been around for a while in the here-today-gone-tomorrow LA foodscape, but that doesn't diminish the things that make Animal's version great. Come to Animal for the Marrow drizzled with Chimichurri Sauce, and stay for the Sticky Toffee Pudding, but do not leave without ordering the Oxtail Poutine. Thick, crispy fries fried to perfection; chunky, melty cheddar cheese curds scattered throughout; and all covered by a rich oxtail gravy that miraculously doesn't turn the aforementioned fries into a soggy mess. Let's be clear - it's still a mess, but a delicious one, where the ingredients simultaneously meld together in perfect harmony yet hold their own. It's heavy, and you will probably need to share. It's a little salty too, but why do you care? You're eating french fries dripping with cheese and oxtail gravy. Don't worry, your kale chips will cut you some slack.

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

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