In a city that runs mainly on green smoothies, kombucha, açai bowls, and turmeric lattes, The Cannibal doesn't quite fit in. And that's really not a bad thing. Located in the hip new Platform complex, The Cannibal is paradise for those who like their meals a bit meatier, who prefer beer over 'booch, and who aren't afraid to come face-to-face with their dinner. Literally.
The Cannibal is the West Coast outpost of a popular New York City eatery by the same name, founded by Christian Pappanicholas and Cory Lane, with executive chef Francis Derby. The space is comprised of two separate sections: on one side, a sit-down restaurant, and on the other, a casual sandwich and butcher shop. Described as "a butcher's restaurant," The Cannibal offers creative dishes designed to highlight the wonders of meat in all its forms. In fact, the team embraces the head-to-tail approach, utilizing the entire animal whenever possible - you can even arrange a feast for a large group, featuring an entire pig or lamb.
At a restaurant with a dinner menu featuring massive hunks of steak, an entire pig's head, and hundreds of different beers, you may not expect to find a brunch menu at all - let alone one with any redeeming qualities. And yet, Cannibal offers us a pleasant surprise by offering a brunch menu full of delicious options ranging from riffs on the classics to almost hilariously over-the-top concoctions (see: the "Double Down," a breakfast sandwich stuffed with three kinds of meat, in which the bread has been replaced with bricks of hashbrowns - unfortunately none of my group were daring enough to order it). The menu is compact, but not without variety - from the German Breakfast (essentially a charcuterie plate) to the Gruyere Omelette to the Fruit & Granola, there's actually something for everyone. I daresay you could bring a vegetarian along, and he'd be pleased as punch.
I was lucky enough to come for brunch with a sizable group, so we were able to cover a healthy portion of the brunch menu. There are a number of tempting starters available (including the famous Everything Pretzel, which I'll need to come back on another day to try), and we chose to start the meal off with a bit of sweet: the Cinnamon Bun and the Warm Butter Biscuit.
The Cinnamon Bun was a well-executed version of the classic - puffed and yeasty with a bread-like texture, and accented with a generous helping of cream cheese frosting. This was light, subtle, and not too sweet.
With the Warm Butter Biscuit, things were turned up a bit. While the biscuit is obviously another classic treat, Cannibal's version raised the bar - it was incredibly flaky and buttery, and was perfectly baked. And when you smear that sea salt caramel on top, it's absolute salty-sweet heaven. It's large enough to share, but you might not want to. Order it. Seriously.
Now, on to the mains. Luckily, there are plenty of brunch selections that allow you to take full advantage the chef's meat-cooking prowess. Most obviously, the Steak & Eggs - offered in the form of hanger steak, New York strip, or aged ribeye. The steak was cooked to absolute perfection, and it was accompanied by a delicious carrot-walnut romesco sauce.
For the brunch purists of the world, there's a Two Eggs Any Style, served with ultra-crispy, fully rendered bacon. On the side were potatoes, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and a little bit spicy.
The Baby Gems Salad was a favorite at our table. It's easily customizable with the addition of hanger steak, grilled chicken, or even an egg and some bacon if you're feeling creative. The standout component was the champagne dressing; flavorful, tart, sweet, and applied generously.
The Sweet & Spicy Chicken Biscuit is like a fun take on chicken n' waffles, and with that aforementioned flaky biscuit as the base, it's got a lot going for it. Flavor-wise, this is on the mellow side - we expected it to be a bit more punchy based on its description, but the flavors were really good and the fried chicken was perfectly cooked. The shredded lettuce added some nice freshness, and that biscuit was, well, perfection.
And because every brunch needs a good indulgence item, there's the Stuffed French Toast. This beauty is made of buttery brioche and is stuffed with rich Nutella filling, then is topped with a mound of whipped cream and tons of crunchy toasted hazelnuts. It's decadently delicious, and it is not on your Whole 30. It should, without a doubt, be a dessert. And because it's on a brunch menu as a main course, you should eat dessert for brunch. It's the right thing to do.
Prices here do run a touch higher than your average brunch, but there's so much going right: between the gorgeous industrial-meets-modern-cabin interior, the fantastic and incredibly friendly staff, the impressive cocktail list, and even outdoor seating on a spacious patio, it's worth every penny. So, when you finally grow tired of green smoothies and whatever it is that people make with Sun Potion, know that there is some delicious, decadent brunch waiting for you at The Cannibal.
The Cannibal Beer & Butcher
8850 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232