Fried quail and grits. Oxtail poutine. Foie gras and sausage gravy biscuit (RIP). These are just some of the dishes from Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo that made Animal one of Bon Appetit's "20 Most Important Restaurants in America." And honestly, we won't fight that moniker. We do think it was a game-changer, right up there with Michael's, Campanile and Spago. For a couple of guys who came almost out of nowhere, took over a tea house and turned it into one of the most popular restaurants in town is one thing. But those big bold flavors, local ingredients and "it's just damn good" cuisine sort of put a fire under things.
Some call it "stoner food," but it's more than that. It's "smart, not smart-ass. Every dish is generous and freewheeling, but also exacting, disciplined, and balanced—in other words, very unstoner," according to BA. Kind of on the mark there.
As for no other restaurants hitting that list? Yeah, that's a ridiculous shame. Is it because the magazine is more NY-focused now, having moved it's offices from LA to the east coast several years ago? Are they out here eating enough or not? A lot has been going on out here since Animal opened five years ago - and even before - no matter how seminal it might be. Maybe someone should to take another look. [Bon Appetit]