The New Butcher In Town: The Cannibal Brings a Primal Approach to Meat

By VI NGUYEN
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Carnivorous cravings are nothing new, but a new restaurant is arriving on LA’s sunny shores that will take meat-eating to new heights with an unabashed nose-to-tail approach. The Cannibal, a successful NYC meat-centric eatery, is making a second home at Culver City’s hotly anticipated mixed-use complex, PLATFORM, located on the famed Hayden tract. In celebration of a more primal relationship with meat, the restaurant is a brazen ode to carnivorous eats. On any given day, you may find dishes like lamb tartare or even a General Tso pig’s head.

Sound a bit daunting? Perhaps, but one can’t help but admire an eatery which inspires a more playful approach to meat.

The Cannibal’s OG location opened up in 2011 and quickly became a neighborhood spot where, in true NYC fashion, dinner took on a communal feel in the spot’s tight quarters. One might be enjoying Peking duck rillettes and steal a curious glance at an adjacent diner’s garam masala-spiced lamb belly.

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The LA location will be housed inside a much more sprawling space, where in addition to the restaurant, there will also be a butchery, a sandwich counter, and a bar with an impressive number of beers. Heading the kitchen is Chef Francis Derby, coming to LA after having worked under two of NYC’s most bona fide chefs, Wylie Dufresne and David Chang. His menu includes the house-made sausages, rillettes, and pâté’s that have become The Cannibal’s signature offerings, alongside other items such as a 96 oz dry-aged steak, and “whole animal” (aka nose-to-tail) feasts prepared over a custom wood-fired grill and designed to be shared amongst friends.

What is nose-to-tail anyway? Derby tells us, “When we think of nose to tail, we think of using every part of the animal, including some of the less familiar cuts that people aren’t 100 percent sure how to cook. Things like pork chops and ribeye steaks are on so many menus, but things like pig’s head, beef heart, and liver are less common.” He goes on, “One of the best examples of true nose-to-tail cooking is beef tendon. We braise it overnight, press it, then chill it and shave it into noodles to make a cold salad with it.”

Fracis Derby_Headshot_Credit Kevin O'Leary

Derby’s grandfather owned a duck farm, so it’s no surprise he’s got such an affinity for meat. But surprisingly, the veggies on the menu hold their own. “We serve a lot of large cuts of rich fatty meats, such as grilled rib eyes, whole pig’s head, lamb belly. As much as I love eating these things,” Derby explains, “there needs to be some balance, and vegetables are a great way to do that. And with California’s killer produce selection, we are really excited about cooking with more vegetables in LA.”

Indeed, alongside the meat dishes, you’ll find offerings like grilled scallions or onions (one of Derby’s favorite vegetables) served with romesco —a play on a traditional Basque dish. Still, let’s not kid ourselves, the real stars of the menu are the carnivorous kind. Whether it’s the chicken liver pate with beer and shallot jam and cocoa nibs, or lovingly bruleed bone marrow (!) with soft scrambled eggs and marinated mushrooms, you’ll find yourself hard-pressed to make a decision.

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The decision making won’t be any easier when it comes to drinks. With over 500 varieties of bottled beers from all over the globe, The Cannibal’s selection is a beer snob’s dream and curated by Beer Director and Certified Cicerone Julian Kurland, with a dozen labels rotating on tap through a Flux Capacitor.

Speaking of beer, rumor has it that if you come into the restaurant in your cycling gear, you’ll score a free beer. The name of the restaurant, while not-so-subtly hinting to the meat-centric nature of the menu, is also a nod to legendary cyclist, Eddy Merckx, whose nickname is “The Cannibal.” The owners, Christian Pappanicholas and Cory Lane, are avid cyclists themselves, and fellow cyclists who visit The Cannibal will also get a free “musette” bag and energy bar to fuel their ride home. But who has room for energy bars anyway, there’s a General Tso’s pig head waiting to be tackled.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram for real-time updates on The Cannibal’s grand opening at @lacanvas.

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