Son of a Gun: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

Son of a Gun: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

 Whatever the current style in Los Angeles restaurants ends up being named, from the small-plate thing to the fixation on local, organic produce; the off-center proteins to the international palette of flavors; and the resistance to even modest customer requests, it may have its origins in the cheeseburger conspiracies of Father's Office tsar Sang Yoon but it runs right through the kitchens of Animal, where Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook refined both the concept of fried pig's ears and the polite nod of refusal.

 At Son of a Gun, Shook's and Dotolo's small-plates seafood restaurant, the chef is still always right. But it is hard to imagine what alterations you might want to make to a dish of smoked steelhead roe, maple-flavored cream and razor-thin shards of toast, which tastes like an extreme deconstruction of lox and cream cheese on a pumpernickel bagel; of a single Santa Barbara spot prawn with a drop or two of melted butter; or grouper in a broth inspired by Vietnamese pho. What Shook and Dotolo are attempting here, I think, is an American version of abstracted post-Matsuhisa places like Koi, with American seafood instead of imported yellowtail, jaunty Florida-style nautical implements on the walls instead of bamboo, country ham and cornbread instead of tonkatsu with cabbage, and Dark & Stormys at the bar instead of sake. Just try to get alligator schnitzel at Nobu. 8370 W. 3rd. St., L.A. (323) 782-9033, Sun.-Thurs., 6-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 6 p.m.-mid. Street parking, valet. AE, MC, V. Seafood/American.

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