Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook’s newest endeavor, Son of a Gun, naturally invites comparisons to their flagship, Animal. The space is still sparse and simple, but more decorative thanks to walls swimming with fishing paraphernalia. Even the pristine bathroom is papered with retro fishing trophy pics.
The menu at Son of a Gun is more restained than that at Animal. When it comes down to it, this is dude cooking at its finest, with no rules and lots of heart. yet somehow without following any rules everything is absolutely correct. There is a fine line between adequate seasoning and allowing quality ingredients to speak for themselves. Shook and Dotolo walk this line as carefully as if they were in the headlights of a police cruiser.
The appetizer-sized lobster roll is a perfect starter. Dotolo and Shook tend to be heavy-handed with the fat. Melted butter on the toasted brioche-style bun combined with the lemon aioli immediately reminds you whose menu this is. The sweet lobster, which is flown in live from Maine, is cut into generous chunks.
The shrimp toast is perhaps an homage to Thai shrimp toast, but is a different animal altogether. Again, the toasted bread is a treat in and of itself. The sweet and succulent shrimp is formed into a patty like a crab cake. Sriracha mayonnaise was not overwhelming and didn’t mask the flavor of the shrimp,
One of the more filling dishes at Son of a Gun is their fried chicken sandwich. The coating is crunchy without being greasy, and the meat is moist right down to the center of the enormous breast. the sandwich is bursting with cole slaw and surrounded by pickles and jalapenos to be added as desired. At a reasonable $11 the sandwich would make an affordable and satisfying meal.
A lot has been made of the menu’s alligator schnitzel. Being frequent visitors to New Orleans, the idea of fried alligator was not such a novelty, and we chose instead that other Crescent City special, the catfish. Catfish often has a slightly muddy taste, but this filet was clean and flaky. Again, the kitchen excelled at the fine art of deep-frying. The catfish rested on a bed of gold rice succotash that was so delicious I was willing to pick around the jalapenos (yeah, I’m a wimp. So what?). Huge chunks of King crab in tabasco butter (a specialty at Animal) were more than icing on the cake. They took this plate to 11.
As with the fish, which is all sustainable, the beef is supplied by the famously humane and sustainable Niman Ranch. The hanger steak, a darling of chef’s, can be tough if it is not treated properly, but coming from Niman and the dudes, we had no qualms in placing the order. Topped with the richest and smoothest bearnaise I may ever have eaten, and with fried oysters as a lagniappe, it was the perfect final course and made dessert an impossibility.
It’s a shame, because the pound cake with strawberry and lemon geranium looked delicious as it was set on a neighboring table. Another inviting dessert was a cherry soda and vanilla ice cream float. The wine list is limited but the rarities will be unfamiliar to the standard chardonnay and cab crowd so ask for a recommendation from your server. The cocktail list is a combination of high-class spirits, beach bum girly drinks and old-school cocktails brought to you by Lindsay Nader, a native New Yorker.
While you may not leave shaking your head incredulously as you would at Animal (Foie gras biscuits and gravy? Really?). You will walk out of Son of a Gun satisfied without feeling greasy, already planning your next visit.