First Look: Inside Saison chef’s hot new San Francisco restaurant

Acclaimed chef Joshua Skenes just opened his highly-anticipated follow up to the three-Michelin-starred Saison. Angler, a project with co-founder and wine director Mark Bright, is a chic, sea-focused restaurant on The Embarcadero. But this isn’t just any seafood restaurant.

Each day, a few trusted fishermen deliver the freshest local offerings — be it abalone, purple sea urchin or whole petrale sole — to the spacious spin-off, where Skenes’ crew, including executive chef Nicolas Ferreira, hold them in custom-built tanks that mimic aquatic environments. The seafood, and other seasonal offerings, including meats and produce, are cooked over an open wood flame using the meticulous techniques Skenes perfected at Saison.

Add to that buttoned-up service, stunning bay views and loud ’80s music, and you can see what the hype is about. We snagged reservations for an early, light dinner over the weekend. Here’s what we found.

THE VIBE: Compared to Saison, with its 18 seats fetching $298 a person, Angler is large, casual and affordable, with an a la carte menu featuring starters, salads, vegetables and entrees. And even though this is a sea-focused restaurant, the dining rooms, bar and lounge area exude a members-only mountain lodge style, with live-edge wooden tabletops, forest green pillows and impressive taxidermy, including a life-sized bear. On our visit, service was swift and serious.

THE FOOD: Like at Saison, the food here gets its flavor from live fire cooking, along with bits of house-preserved, dried and fermented seasonings. A glistening yellow, herb-flecked heirloom tomato ($17) is topped with diced “embered” tomatoes, a technique in which the tomatoes are seasoned, oiled and cooked in the wood oven with aromatics at a low temperature to slowly dry and confit the product. The dish was bursting with a sweet smokiness akin to barbecued meat.

From the list of proteins, we selected Monterey abalone ($38), eight small mollusks that provided just the right toothsome, savory-sweet protein we needed, while the dreamy Angler Potatoes ($17), hasselback-like but thinner and with a chive-flecked white cheese sauce, put ridiculous smiles on our faces as we chair-danced to the Hall and Oates wafting across the room.

Keep in mind that these are among the most affordable dishes at Angler. A whole chicken entree, while large enough to share, is about $60, and private-batch caviar will run you $150. Also, the menu changes daily so some of these dishes may not be available.

DON’T MISS: Chad’s Bread ($8), as in Chad Robertson of Tartine. Also: Bright’s spot-on wine program, including top-notch bottles from Burgundy alongside the best of Napa and Sonoma.

PERFECT FOR … Skenes groupies, sustainable seafood junkies, an upscale drinks and appetizers jaunt or a special-occasion dinner for two.

DETAILS: Open from 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday at 132 The Embarcadero, San Francisco; www.anglerrestaurants.com

Source: mercurynews
First Look: Inside Saison chef’s hot new San Francisco restaurant