Thursday, April 14, 2011

Son of a Gun

It was back in 2009 when I made a visit to Animal and fell in love with the place at first bite. Pork belly sliders. Biscuits with foie gras and sausage gravy. The best damn tres leches cake. Animal could do no wrong. Since then I've returned several times, marking the Fairfax-area eatery as my favorite restaurant in all of LA. So when news surfaced that the Animal owners--Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo--were planning to open a new restaurant nearby, I of course made it my mission to pay a visit.

Son of a Gun is the second restaurant from the two Animal owners and its focus is heavily geared toward seafood preparations, versus the meat-tastic dishes served at Animal. But like Animal, the new place is small, cramped, and loud (more on that later). Menus change daily and are simply printed on single sheets of paper.  I had a tough time securing a table for 5 people several weeks in advance; the buzz from this place is not going anywhere soon . Nonetheless, my friends all arrived in time for our reservation and we proceeded to begin with with a few drinks.

Manhattan. It was a bit too sweet for me, though that's probably because I'm just so accustomed to drinking straight bourbon or Scotch at home (or Glenlivet 18-year with a dash of bitters and some lemon peel -- oh yes). 

Maui CoCoNut porter.  I didn't try this but my friend enjoyed his can of beer. Love the Pittsburgh Steelers color scheme.

Smoked mahi fish dip, celery, radish, crackers.  We start our dinner with this simple preparation of a fish dip served with crackers. Spread the creamy dip over a cracker, top with a few sprigs of celery and then squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over for a very indulgent "snack".  I didn't get much smoky undertones from the fish, but it was delicious nonetheless. A great start.

Shrimp toast sandwich, herbs, siracha mayo.  Crispy and heavily buttered toast envelopes a choppy mixture of shrimp, herbs and spicy siracha mayo.  Herbs were a nice touch, contributing an earthy presence to the briny shrimp. I immensely enjoyed biting into the golden fried toast with its crackly exterior and soft, pliable interior.

Lobster roll, celery, lemon aioli.  With a size not much bigger than, say a lemon wedge, we each ordered our own serving of this creamy, buttery lobster roll.  I appreciated the acidic effect from the lemon aioli which helped to tame the overall creaminess.  There was a generous amount of lobster meat; just a few bites is all it took for me to enjoy this tapas-sized lobster roll.

Fried chicken sandwich, spicy pickle slaw, rooster aioli. Take the juiciest fried chicken you've ever eaten and serve it on a hearty, pillowy soft bun and you have this upscale take on your classic fried chicken sandwich.  A heaping mound of slaw was so vibrant, crisp, and tangy; it was perfect in taming the heaviness of the fried chicken. Messy to cut and eat and share, but so worth the extra TLC to make sure each well-positioned bite encompasses bun, slaw and chicken.  

Soft shell crab, pickled green tomato, bacon, aioli. I almost didn't notice the miniature bacon quietly resting the crab's extremities. By itself the soft shell crab was quite tasty though the coating was too thick for my liking, and thus masked some of the crab's flavor. Creamy aioli added richness to an already heavy dish, while the pickled green tomato cut in that richness. My friends didn't bother to clean up the tomatoes, leaving the pickled goodies all to me. Back to the miniature bacon, they reminded me of the tiny bacon served at Jack in the Box for breakfast. 

Alligator schnitzel, heart of palm, orange A few of us were really looking forward to this, but it was a letdown for me. Whatever alligator meat existed on this plate was completed drowning in overly thick breading, and so I couldn't quite discern the nuances of alligator meat. Jalapenos added a good amount of heat and I can only imagine how much better the schnitzel would be with a thinner breading. I did enjoy the hearts of palm served in a creamy dressing, and the zesty orange pieces.

King crab leg, tabasco butter. So often in my dining adventures have I come across king crab lags that were given complete injustice, whether they were overcooked, poorly seasoned, or lacking that fresh ocean-y flavor.  These crab legs however were absolute perfection and a must-order. Fresh flavors, pre-cracked, and cooked just right.  The boys at Deadliest Catch would be proud. Not cheap at $26 per plate, but each leg packed a wallop of the juiciest crab meat you'll ever have, and it's all spiced up with a vinegary tobasco butter sauce.

Hiramasa, mojo de ajo, red onion, sunchoke.  I wouldn't think to pair sashimi-style fish with mojo de ajo (garlic oil), but this worked and in fact was one of my favorite dishes.  Meaty hiramasa--or yellowtail amberjack--was delicious and as good as any yellowtail sashimi I've had in sushi restaurants.  It was nice to see seasonal sunchokes (similar taste to a potato) being utilized, though the effect was mostly textural.

Flour-less chocolate cake, banana, peanut, coconut ice cream.brulee" bananas, topped with peanuts and I'd be quite happy.

Frozen lime yogurt, graham crumble, toasted meringue.  Our second dessert and final dish of the night was this bowl of super tangy frozen lime yogurt. This had a key lime pie-like presence and taste with the graham crumble and toasted meringue.  I like how the meringue was "brushed" along the inside of the bowl. A nice, light dessert to end the night.

Overall I must say I was extremely pleased with our meal.  All of the dishes were seasoned nicely and plated beautifully. Courses were timed about right, and when multiples of a single dish were ordered such as with the lobster roll, all arrived at the same time.  I would pass on the alligator schnitzel for next time--and there will be a next time--but everything else impressed me. I might also pass on the desserts, instead opting to save room for the Magnolia Bakery just across the street.

So about that noise factor.  The dining room is small and lacked substantial fabric to soak up the rambunctious scene, making it a challenge to hear each other.  Shouting wasn't necessary, though loud talking was the norm.  Noise aside, I enjoyed the night and look forward to coming back very soon.

Son of a Gun
8370 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles CA, 90048


  1. lobster roll, gimme!!

    i will have to check this place out. wasn't a big fan of Animal, it made our tummies hurt.

  2. Yeah give it a try, this is definitely a departure from Animal. No foie, sweet breads, marrow....just really good seafood!