3/26/2013 03:30:00 PM

Best Thing We Ate Last Night: Catbird Seat at Animal

Monkfish liver, foie gras of the sea
No, the Catbird Seat isn't some crazy new meaty dish Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo came up with for the Animal menu. It is, however, a hot restaurant with a couple of chefs making waves with bold, creative modernist cuisine in Nashville and across the country. Erik Anderson and Josh Habiger teamed up with Dotolo and Shook last night for the Fairfax restaurant's Cooking with Friends guest chef series, and what an nine-course menu they all created. First, congrats to Shook who welcomed a new beautiful baby girl with fiance Shiri Abbleby two days ago (so he wasn't on deck for the dinner). But Dotolo was there, working the line with the other chefs, sending out amazing dishes like bites of "Nashville hot chicken" skin with Wonder Bread puree and dill salt, monkfish liver with Persian cucumbers and steelhead roe, and asparagus sformata with strips of beautifully fresh green asparagus and crisp nuggets of country ham. Every dish was just...lovely.

Nothing was too overdone or over the top, just creative and layered enough to taste the seasonal ingredients chosen, even minute details like beautiful chive blossoms, mustard seeds and crispy shallots on a sliver of funky Hudson Red cheese (expertly paired with The Bruery's Mischief, we might add). It's difficult to claim any one dish as "the best," but we loved the aforementioned monkfish and asparagus, the Laughing Bird shrimp dumpling with onion, black truffle and crispy potato, and the veal cheeks topped with a beet blanket and dill puree.

When Anderson came out to tell us about that last dish, we asked what he's loved about this experience in LA these last few days. "We went to the Hollywood Farmers Market on Sunday and it was just amazing," he said. It is a beautiful place this time of year, that's for sure. The guest chefs did five of the nine courses, and after each bite we decided that a trip to Nashville might be in order. The dinner wasn't inexpensive, but we never mind when proceeds go to a good cause (in this case, the Pablov Foundation). Check out all of the dishes below.


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