Felix + Animal - A Vision of Sublime Things To Come

Well, I suppose many will have to take this with a grain of salt since I apparently have opposite pasta tastes to most of the other people here, but perhaps this will be more for those who read more than post.

By my estimation, Evan Funke makes my favorite pasta in the world, and he was pretty much running the majority of the show last night. It was an absolutely incredible dinner.

The meal began with a complimentary Cava Spritz that was refreshing and pleasant. There was an earthy element like hemp incorporated that made it interesting, it was a nice way to kick things off.

Beets, Chicories, Horseradish, Walnuts was an earthy, astringent, and refreshing salad turned up a notch by the horseradish, which was actually turned into a vinaigrette that coated the salad perfectly. The piquancy of the coating with the earthiness of the beets and walnuts as well as the delicate chicories was superb.

An Antipasto Plate came out with the salad. It was ridiculously good. There was a miniature version of Animal’s chicken liver toast with port gelee that was quite good. However, Funke’s pork rillette toast with a bit of candied pear and a sprig of time was outrageously awesome. The touch of sweetness with an intense porcine heft and just a hint of the thyme lifting the flavors. The toast was grilled and a touch crispy, a touch chewy, and quite savory on both. Truly excellent bites.

The other items were mushrooms marinated in spicy vinegar, marinated olives, and pecorino cheese. I am not generally a fan of olives, but these tasted strangely addictive. The mushrooms were also incredible for such simple bites, just bursting with intense acidity that also brought out their mushroom flavors. Great with the pecorino cheese. The whole plate was a very fun, and utterly delicious way to begin a meal.

The wine pairings were a seemingly excellent bargain going by their own wine list, and the pairings generally seemed quite smart. The 2015 Blanc de Morgex, Et De La Salle, Vallee D’Aoste was a perfect wine with both starting dishes, but especially the antipasto plate as the minerality and slight sweetness of the wine was significantly lived up by the acids and fruits in the antipasto plate.

Then came time for the pastas. First up was Pasta San Giuseppe. One of the wildest pastas I’ve ever had. There are two types of capers, golden raisins, cauliflower, a mass of breadcrumbs, garlic, and olive oil…I couldn’t quite keep up with everything in it. Traditionally this type of pasta is meatless, being based around the breadcrumbs at its core from what I understand. It worked wonders for me as it was a whirlwind of flavors and sensations: sweet, spicy, tangy, vinegary, crunchy, savory. At the center of it all pasta that is utter perfection; to me, this is the best pasta gets in terms of texture and flavor. I don’t know what Funke does to pasta to make it so good, perhaps he sprinkles crack in the flour…

The chaotic pasta was well-paired with 2015 Etna Rosso, Ayunta “Navigabile”, Sicilia. A kind of feiry red wine with a body that tempered some of the more intensely vinegary elements of the pasta, and brought out the sweetness of the raisins.

Next up was Lasagna Tesutto*, which was so incredible as to be transcendant. The pasta is wraped like a ribbon instead of layered, and filled in pockets with bechamel and pork ragu, topped with a wild flurry of pecorino-reggiano cheese. This was the most ethereal lasagana I’ve ever eaten, yet at the same time the pasta itself actually had a perfect balance of heft and toothsomeness to it. Parts of the pasta were slightly charred and crispy but not brittle, just texturally amazing. The funk of the cheese also really made the whole dish sing. Whether just flagrant bullshitting, or truth, the pork ragu recipe was reportedly learned by Funke from a family that has been making it for 200 years, and it is a rare recipe. It was easily the greatest ragu I have ever had so I am inclined to believe what they told me.

The lasagna’s richness and funk paired wonderfully with 2012 Barbaresco, Rabaja Castello di Verduno, Piedmont. A more acidic, tannic red that played well to the richness of the cream and pork in the lasagna.

And then there were mains. First a small dish of Pork Belly, Fennel Pollen, and Peruano Beans. I kind of wish every dish was the size of this one as there was far too much food in this meal. It was utterly extraordinary. The beans themselves were creamy inside, but with a significant heft to their outside layer, and they matched beautifully with fork-tender rendered pork belly lived up by fennel pollen. However, the real magic was in a black garlic sauce and chile oil layers beneath the beans and pork that consituted one of the most layer, complex, and addictive sauce application in a dish that I have ever come across outside of really high-end fine dining places. I went distinctly non-fine-dining and licked every last bit of it off of the plate. Mind-blowing.

A second main was a half Chicken Under A Brick, Piccata Butter, and Arugula. I had to tap out and take most of this to go, but holy shit was this good for brick-pressed chicken. Deeply succulent chicken and impossibly crispy skin. The fresh arugula was a great peppery vegetal note, set against a tremendously addictive piccata butter. It was thick, and zapped with lemon, yet very buttery at the same time. There were a mass of capers cooked in the butter beneath the chicken as well. Kind of ostensibly chicken piccata became something beyond itself in this dish from the parts I ate. I ate the rest this afternoon, and it was still incredbile a day later. Funke seems like a magician that happens to do tricks with food…

The mains paired wonderfully with 2014 Rosso di Montalcino, Azienda Agricola La Torre which was 100% sangiovese. The dry, pungent red smacked of cherries and was the perfect counterpoint to the intensity of the fennel pollen, pork, and black garlic in the one, and the piquant lemon-y piccata butter and juicy chicken in the other.

Dessert was Tre Latti & Berries which was essentially Tres Leches cake and berries, which I think Animal does typically, but the whipped topping was made using goats milk, which added a different texture to it, and also a discernable funk that was actually remarkable when taken with the luscious cake and tart berries. I don’t recall Animal’s straight up Tres Leches tasting this amazing, so something seemed a bit different besides the goat’s milk topping. The texture of the cake was just incredible, almost crumbly, but firm, and perfectly moist without being cloying…just a ridiculously awesome dish.

Dessert was significantly amplified by NV Moscato d’Asti, La Caudrina, Castiglione Tinella which livened up the flavors of of the cake and berries to a new degree of intensity. A fairly traditional dessert wine, but a super smart paring.

One of the best dinners I have had in a long time. If this is a look at what will be going on at Felix, then it truly cannot open fast enough; for me, it will be one of the best restaurants to open anywhere.

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Think I fixed it.

better than your favorite Bestia?

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I’ve said this before but i’ll say it again.

I like the way you eat.

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Yes, not even a doubt. Funke is just next level to me.

Best is awesome in a gustatory way, but Funke’s pasta was life changing for me and continues to be. Funke makes these intense pilgrimages to Italy to sort of mine it for these obscure recipes. In taking to the wine director at Animal last night she said “His secret is that everything is a secret”. That kind of sums it up nicely. There is no 200 year old Raghu recipes at Bestia, it’s more like California infused into modern Italian food. Now maybe some people would be offended about his abuse or stealing of Italian culture but it translates to absolute marvels on the plate. I’ve had pasta dishes at 2 Michelin star restaurants that I thought had less complexity depth and flavor than Funke’s pastas.

However, his larger format dishes that were not pasta sometimes failed at Bucato so I was pleasantly surprised to see such a remarkable showing at this dinner on the mains.

But in terms of pastas, I have yet to eat pasta anywhere else that I would compare. Probably just my personal taste but they hit me right on; eveythjng else is a sort of distant second.

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Thanks, I’m glad I get one thing right! :slight_smile:

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Loved rustic canyon when he was there, missed him at Bucato. Looking forward to his new place when it opens. Hopefully no 2 month wait list.

Wow… that is most unfortunate. I had some of my favorite and most memorable meals ever at Bucato. Sadly I wasn’t takig photos or really writing about food much back then but I recall them vividly.

If Felix produces dishes like this dinner t will be even better than Bucato though, as it seems he has deepened his repertoire through a lot of traveling and studying in Italy.

I also hope it doesn’t have a two month waitlist. Supposedly aiming for an early March opening though so a ways off still :frowning:

though it would be kinda sad if he was one of those uber old school secretive chefs that didn’t pass his knowledge onto others

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Well he’s pretty young but he may be that kind of chef. Look at how Bucato failed nearly instantly without him… if he didn’t keep his secrets somewhat close would that have happened?

Perhaps he will train a successor if Felix is successful though since he has described it as having a goal of setting up the most comprehensive pasta program in the USA.

How do I go to there? Literally. I can’t find an address for this place using a Google search.

It was a pop-up at animal. Felix will open on abbot kinney

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It’s not open. But FelixLA.com lists their address as 1023 Abbott Kinney blvd

MARCH!?!?!?!? That sucks

I was hoping they would say February as well hah

They said maybe late Feb but with the way it’s been going I am inclined to think it will be March.

Ugh. Which really means May.

Yeah probably :confused:
That’s why I went to the popup couldn’t wait!

Oh sweet baby jeebus. I’ve been missing Funke’s pasta for what seems like forever!
I make a version of that pasta San Giuseppe at home. It’s good. Good enough for company even. But thinking about a Funke version is really exciting because it’s likely to be amazing and I learn so much every time I eat one of his dishes.

This looks like a pasta version of a very popular (and excellent cauliflower recipe (see: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/12/roasted-cauliflower-pine-nut-raisin-caper-food-lab-recipe.html)

It’s a fairly typical Sicilian prep, where cauliflower is KING.

IMHO, Funke is doing things the right way, in terms of pasta production. It’s all about wood on wood with hands.
That’s what creates the ‘ligue di gato’ (cat’s tongue) texture on the pasta, which helps to adhere the sauce.

When referencing cucina povera, as Funke has been studying, it’s a fairly rare occurrence (maybe Holiday occasions) to have meat in pasta dishes…especially in the South.

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