A couple weeks ago Tuesday, I was lucky enough to score an early rez at the restaurant Animal, the much-hyped LA restaurant run by chefs Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook (Vinny’s the bushy one, photo courtesy of Animal). A few weeks earlier, in town for a gig at the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (bet you didn’t know I played the cello!), a friend took me to their second restaurant Son of a Gun. I told this friend I loved it and that it reminded me of The Greenhouse Tavern, because it did the same kind of food. (Only of course it didn’t really–Greenhouse doesn’t sell alligator schnitzel!–so what did I mean? Fabulous dish, that schnitzel.)

It wasn’t till I ate at Animal with my friend the writer Dan Voll and our kids that I realized what I’d been feeling at Son of a Gun. Our server asked me if I was enjoying everything. And I said yes. But that wasn’t enough, I needed her to know there was more to it than just yes: “What those guys in the kitchen are doing is about more than just food,” I said. “They’re doing what they love, it’s so obvious, so clear in the food. I wish everyone worked that way.” She said, “Wow, thanks!” I’d had a couple glasses of wine and numerous dishes of truly fine and original food–my absolute favorite food, succulent fatty bone marrow with excellent grilled bread, pig ears with an egg on top, hamachi, foie, shrimp and rabbit spring roll, and the best crispy pig tail I’ve ever had, see checked items below–so I was kind of effusive. “You don’t understand what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that if everyone did their work in the same way those guys are cooking food, those guys back there rocking in the kitchen, if EVERYONE did their work exactly that way, the world would be a better place! An incredible place. The whole world, imagine it! If everyone just followed this kitchen’s lead.”

The server smiled nervously and departed. Dan and I were thrilled by the food, my daughter and her friend, 16-ish, we’re mainly grossed out and asked when can we go someplace normal? But Dan’s son, 13, was ecstatic, bless him, a cook in the making.

The menu at Animal.

It’s the same reason I love Greenhouse Tavern. Because it’s so clear from the food that Jonathon Sawyer is doing exactly what he loves, just as Vinny and Jon are doing. They aren’t just cooking, they are conveying their love of the world, through the food, directly to the diner. Love, passion, exuberance for life—that’s what these dishes are. And if the man or woman or youngster who walks through their door are willing, they can open a vein and mainline that goodness.

So yeah, wonderful server whoever you were, I’d say I was enjoying myself.

If you liked this post on doing what you love, check out these other links:

© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved

 

 

Share

71 Wonderful responses to “Mainlining”

  • Epicuranoid

    Inspiring and reasonably priced menu. Most loved by me: “Changes and modifications politely declined” ! As a chef/owner I love that and think we all should adopt it. It can be so painful when one puts together a plate that is meant to nourish the guest and flatter the elements just to have some moron decide they want to build their own dish :D
    Kudos Animal!

    • Dick Peppermill

      To Epicuara-roid
      ——– you and the 1% you rode in on.

    • some chefs are dumb

      People that ignore food allergies are bad people. What a bunch of smug assholes.

      • Jen B.

        There are 32 (!!!) items on this menu–if you can’t find something to eat without picking the dish apart and re-casting it to suit your “allergies”, you are probably too delicate to eat out.

  • Matt

    These guys seem amazing. I have seen them on television, read a number of articles and a piece in the book Primal Cuts by Marissa Guggiana and in every case they come across as two dudes who are having the time of their lives. I have pored over their menus a number of times, fantasizing about making the cross continental pilgrimage on more than one occasion. Glad to see that the food reflects their attitudes and that it’s as delicious as it sounds.

  • Sharon Scott

    For sure Michael it has to be about love. Recently an article ran in the Chicago Sun-Times “What I Didn’t Learn in Culinary School”. Because it’s such a tough business to be in, at the end the day its got to be passion that drives you or it will show.

  • allen

    That is a very large menu, did you try the poutine? I’m a poutine snob so the fries have to be fresh cut and crispy.
    That’s an April fools joke about the cello, right? You are already to cool for school, that would make you beyond cool!

  • Karen J

    Sometimes the internet is a bad thing. Instead of flying out of Chicago to eat at the Animal, I can look at the menu, get ideas, and make it myself. That’s boring. I want the marrow bone with Chimichurri and caramelized onion!!!!! You play cello? Ever play that beautiful Bach Suite in G? <3

  • Nick

    Animal is hands down my favorite restaurant in LA, and I’ve eaten almost everywhere there. I’m actually from Cleveland originally… guess it’s time to try Greenhouse tavern next time I’m at home!

  • Roberta Wennik

    I believe that eating out should be an experience of eating foods that you wouldn’t make in your own kitchen. Save your restaurant dining for the unusal and special. That’s not to say that once you’ve had a interesting dish out, you wouldn’t want to give it a try at home, just maybe with your own spin. I think it’s the variations on a dish that make cooking fun. Try it one way tonight and another way tomorrow. There’s creativiity in us all if only given a chance to emerge.

  • Natalie Luffer Sztern

    Hah! I play clarinet. After taking my magnifying glass to the above menu I can say that in my lifetime to date I have eaten most of what is on the menu except the Pig Head and the Pig Ears. However my dog lays claim to the Pig Ears, dried bought from the farmer on a RR 45 minutes north of Montreal and not the dog store. I am afraid it is also a Horse Farm…

    • allen

      Montreal, where the poutine baseline is set and they have best curds, they have them shipped from Montreal to the best places in B. C. You are so lucky to have access to that numptiousness.

  • sarah

    i lovelovelove the hamachi tostada and order it EVERY single time we eat there!

  • Lia

    These are my favorite restaurants ever. Jon and Vinny never disappoint. Every bite surprises me, even if I have had the foie gras biscuit like 4 times. And the shrimp toast.

  • Elmer

    I’ve been meaning to comment on this piece for a week now.

    I too had the opportunity to try out Animal recently on a trip to LA for work. It really is great. I think my wife and I tried a lot of the same dishes that your group had. The only complaint I had was the serving size. It was too big! I wanted to clean the plates, but knew there was more coming. Animal compares very favorably to a few places here in Atlanta, just as it does to your haunts in Cleveland. It’s funny how people find the same styles of restaurants when they travel… The biggest shock was the check. I was expecting the final bill to be larger than it was by at least 25%. Pleasant surprise.

    Michael, if you ever get the chance to check out Atlanta (I know you didn’t have time when you were here on the Elements tour) let me know. I’ll give you a list of places to work through. I’ll even play tour guide if you’d like. Maybe you’ll make it down for this spring’s Food & Wine Festival in May.

  • Jacob

    The Poutine and the Bone Marrow with Chimichurri was AMAZING! Can’t wait to go back!

  • Dagny Koeing

    I like what you guys are up as well. Such intelligent function and reporting! Carry on the superb functions guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will enhance the worth of my web site . “Live amongst men as if God beheld you speak to God as if men had been listening.” by Seneca.

  • cause i need this more than you know

    Hello there Nice blog site. Do you need to invitee publish on my very own sometime? If so make sure you tell me by means of e mail or simply answer this particular comment simply due to the fact I enrolled in notices and definately will understand should you.

  • fake robot

    Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

  • Vannessa Wheaton

    I got what we intend, thanks pertaining to swing way up. Woh I’m pleased to feel this website through yahoo. Thanks Regarding Share Deploy Plugins » Somnangblogs.

  • HCG Drops

    hi!,I like your writing very a lot! share we keep in touch more about your article on AOL? I need an expert on this area to unravel my problem. Maybe that is you! Having a look forward to peer you.

  • good girls get down on the floor

    Hello there I like your blog. Do you need to visitor publish on my own sometime? In that case you should inform me by means of e-mail or just reply to this particular comment since We subscribed to announcements and definately will understand should you.

  • porsche 911 subentro leasing

    Good day very cool website!! Man .. Excellent .. Wonderful .. I will bookmark your website and take the feeds additionally…I am happy to find a lot of helpful information right here in the post, we need work out extra strategies on this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

  • Emile Grunau

    I really appreciate this post. I are already looking around for this! Thank goodness I ran across it on Bing. You’ve produced my day time! Thx once again! All that is gold will not glitter don’t assume all those that will wander tend to be lost. by T. R. R. Tolkien.

  • testosterone therapy

    Ha ha… I was just online around and took a glance at these responses. I can’t believe that there’s still this much interest. Thanks for writing about this.

  • cheap flights

    Hi I like your wewebsite. Would you like to invitee submit in my very own sometime? In that case make sure you inform me via email or perhaps reply to this particular opinion because I enrolled in notifications and can know should you.

  • yard signs in Southern California

    Hello I like your blog. Do you want to invitee post on my own someday? In that case make sure you let me know via email or simply reply to this kind of opinion since I enrolled in announcements and definately will realize if you do.

  • Kasy Fiskalne

    Do you’ve got a spam problem on this website; I also am a blogger, and My spouse and i was interested in learning your circumstance; many of us have created some good procedures and were looking to be able to trade methods with other people, please take me a good e-mail if interested.

  • pablo

    Your weblog seems to be having some compatibilty problems in my firefox browser. The wording appears to be running off the webpage pretty bad. If you would like you can e-mail me at: francklienhart@live.fr and I will shoot you over a screenshot of the problem.

  • Dulce Shane

    Good day! I know this can be kinda away from topic yet I ended up being wondering which blog platform are you currently using for this website? I’m getting fed up with WordPress due to the fact I’ve had difficulties with hackers along with I’m investigating alternatives pertaining to another podium. I can be awesome in the event you could place me toward a excellent platform.

  • car service

    Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an e-mail. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it improve over time.

  • Alia

    Hello. I noticed your site title, “Love, Passion, Exuberance For Life | Michael Ruhlman” doesn’t really reflect the content of your internet site. When composing your blog title, do you believe it’s most beneficial to write it for Search engine marketing or for your readers? This is something I’ve been battling with mainly because I want great rankings but at the same time I want the best quality for my site visitors.

  • Karma Hatmaker

    An unputdownable discussion will probably be worth annotate. I consider that you should correspond much about this content, it most likely are not a preconception subordinate nevertheless generally fill usually are not sufficiency in order to speak in specified topics. To the particular succeeding. Cheers like your Khmer Karaoke Superstars .

  • Kasy Fiskalne

    I’m additionally commenting to generate you be familiar with what the helpful discovery my romantic found studying yuor web blog. She learned way too many pieces, including what it really is like to possess an outstanding coaching spirit to offer the others clearly know some hard to do topics. You really exceeded the girl desires. Thanks regarding distributing these kind of valuable, safe, informative not forgetting easy thoughts on the topic to Tanya.

  • Tanie Kasy Fiskalne

    great factors altogether, you simply gained a fresh reader. What do you recommend concerning your post that you made a few days ago? Any good?

  • Christinia Loughry

    Hey there, You’ve done a great job. I will unquestionably digg this and within my view advise to my personal friends. I believe they’ll become benefited using this website.

  • Ricky Bulkley

    What anyone said made a great deal of sense. But, think concerning this, what in the event you added just a little content? I imply, I dont desire to tell you how you can run your website, but what if you extra something to be able to maybe get peoples awareness? Just as being a video or possibly a picture or two to obtain people pumped up about what youve got to say. In my estimation, it would make your website become more active a tiny bit.

  • Consuelo Rooker

    Amazing blog! Do you’ve any ideas for aspiring freelance writers? I’m about to start my very own website quickly but I’m slightly lost in everything. Would a person recommend you start with a totally free platform such as WordPress or go for a paid alternative? There are a lot of choices available that I’m totally confused.. Any ideas? Many thanks!

  • Shalanda Mcelmeel

    I got what we plan, thanks for putting up. Woh I’m gladsome to undergo this website finished yahoo and google. Thanks Pertaining to Share Khmer Karaoke Superstars » Somnangblogs.

  • Nichelle Wiatrek

    Khmer Karaoke Superstars My partner and i was recommended this site by my personal cousin. I’m uncertain whether this particular post is compiled by him since nobody otherwise know this sort of detailed regarding my trouble. You are usually wonderful! Thanks! your content about Khmer Karaoke Stars Regards Veronica Veronica

  • Fidelia Daughterty

    We stumbled over here coming from a different site and thought I might as effectively check items out. I like what I see therefore now we are following anyone. Look forwards to exploring your website repeatedly.

  • Janine Paga

    Good day time! I simply would want to give a tremendous thumbs up for that great information you might have here on this post. I will be coming again for a blog regarding extra quickly.

  • Jerry Oberholzer

    Great ¡V I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your site. I had no trouble navigating through all tabs as well as related info ended up being truly simple to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it at all. Quite unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or something, web site theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Excellent task..

  • öáøåâïïê

    Good day! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site? I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  • Clarine Sandrock

    Someone essentially assist to make significantly articles I might state. This is the very first time I frequented your web page and up to now? I amazed with the analysis you made to make this actual submit extraordinary. Magnificent job!

  • Sam Spahr

    I want to thnkx for your efforts you’ve got put written this blog. I am hoping exactly the same high-grade web site post from you within the upcoming as well. Actually your creative producing abilities provides inspired me to get my website now. Really the particular blogging is actually spreading their wings quickly. Your write up is a good example of it

  • Vi Rupert

    My sibling suggested I might like this site. He had been totally correct. This put up actually built my morning. You cann’t consider simply what sort of lot time I had created spent just for this info! Thanks!

  • Mitchell Kersey

    I simply want to say I’m very new to blogs and honestly loved your website. Almost certainly I’m going to bookmark your blog post . You really come with superb posts. Appreciate it for sharing with us your website.

  • Charlena Teigen

    Thank an individual for expressing excellent data. Your web-site is so cool. I am impressed with the details which you have on this site. It discloses how effectively you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this web site, will come back for added articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I identified just the data I already searched everywhere and just could not come across. What a great site.

  • I'm a schmuck

    I’m gone to convey my little brother, that he should also go to see this blog on regular basis to get updated from newest news.

  • Catina Wackerly

    I bottom vinculum to your weblog on my friends acting and when i start to reading it i cannot end. Your article is so biddable, dross in it accept so much true. Is there any more scheme you conspicuous your content? Sustain, trade my sign.

  • Jerrell Barbian

    I absolutely reckon this post. I unimperilled been looking usually pro this! Faithfulness goodness I start it on my comrade fb. You’ve oppose my epoch! Thanks again and persevere in posting your fulfil!

  • hermes birkin 30

    This kind of Hermes Charcoal Case are by and large without good quality and are also copied. It can be speedily hurt as well as being developed hurriedly hermes bowling bag. It’s also possible to investigate in the in house using view the snags connected with post internally, that will be under no circumstances excellent more sleek, cheek designing typical with an initial Prada handbag. Now there seem to be synthetic leather citations in conjunction with comprises inexpensive resources.
    [url=http://lvhanddbagsdd.insanejournal.com/ ]hermes wallet price[/url]

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1.  URL
  2.  Flats Edinburgh
  3.  acroscleroderma bashkir alterative
  4.  raspberry ketone
  5.  Lipo 6 black
  6.  kalkulator kosztów ogrzewania
  7.  sztachety plastikowe
  8.  Animal Wire: Author and occasional television personality Michael… | thepalmbeachproper.com
  9.  business credit cards bad credit