Charles Ellner Carte Blanche Champagne
Amberjack, Cultured Cabbage, Pear
Hand Torn Big Eye Tuna, Tomato Jelly, Shiso, Rice Cracker
Sweet Chicory Caesar
Tuxedo #3 – Gin, Apricot, Fino Sherry
Antelope Tartare, Egg Yolk, Lettuce Cups
Lettuces, Herbs, Meyer Lemon
Hand-Dived Scallop, Perigord Black Truffle, Smoked Butter, Lemon
Slowly Grilled Hen of the Woods Mushroom, Harissa
Whole Barbecued Bobwhite Quail, Honey
Ruby Beet, Embered Tomato, Walnut
28-Day Dry Aged New York Strip, Angler Steak Sauce, Broth of Roasted Bones
Soft Serve Sundae, Barbecue Sea Salt, Caramel
It was late-summer 2011 that Joshua Skenes’ name first appeared via inbox, a public post on Chowhound regarding the merits of three restaurants leading the Chef of a spot in The Mission to e-mail with guarantees that seating at his table would be San Francisco’s best. Not only was he right, but so too were visits to the current Saison in 2013 and 2014.
Now older and better traveled, both diner and Chef having accrued experience across the span of nearly five years, it was on Sunday night that a seat was again taken in Josh Skenes space, this time grandiose Angler located along The Embarcadero yet much like three times past the focus from entry to exit was on peerless ingredients cooked with fire.
Recently making waves with his announcement of Skenes Ranch, an invitation-only experience that will give Josh an opportunity to show guests his vision of what a “Restaurant” can be by engaging in fishing, hunting and more, it is in cozy wood and leather chairs as opposed to wilderness that those visiting Angler will find themselves, walls decorated with taxidermy and the feel of a hunting lodge spanning across two rooms including bar and open kitchen.
Intended to be less formal than Saison, an a la carte menu and focus on plates able to be shared giving Angler a feel not unlike some modern steakhouses, those so inclined are additionally given the option to “let us cook for you,” an idea well-suited to solos or those open to anything including items unavailable otherwise.
Still refined in terms of service, a combination of professionalism and pleasantries on display as everything from Phil Collins to Billy Ocean plays overhead, it was opening with complimentary Bubbles that strips of Amberjack dressed in acid found silky Fish juxtaposed by Pears and Cabbage, a follow-up of Tuna Tartare reminiscent of that served eight years prior but here carefully accented by fragments of Gelatin infused with Tomatoes and a Rice Cracker for contrast.
Missing no detail, serviceware present alongside Salt, house-cured Peppers and other Condiments, it was on request that an aggressively herbal Cocktail was poured for round two, the Tuxedo #3 starting dry before yielding a fruity finish that complimented both Angler’s salty Caesar and finely ground Antelope slicked by Egg Yolk and moderately spiced with Chili Oil.
Veering off menu with Scallops sliced and stacked with Truffles, a Salad of local Lettuces smartly resetting the palate between rich bites, those fond of Mushrooms should not miss Skenes’ beautiful Hen of the Woods gently roasted and bathed in Harissa, the spice largely smoky instead of spicy and the entirety of the preparation wonderful on its own but even better bite-for-bite with Bobwhite Quail that undergoes a multi-step process to yield smoky Flesh and sweet Skin with a texture not far from that of Peking Duck.
Sated but not stuffed, the kitchen’s choice to omit both Parker Rolls and Angler’s oft-photographed Potato soon proving fortuitous, it was rounding out savories that Beets and Beef arrived, the dry-aged Strip fortified by a bath of Bone Broth while the combination of burnt Tomatoes and Walnuts formed a rich and satisfying Chutney, of sorts, atop the tender but still structurally intact Taproot.
Not overdoing it with Dessert, though five options are available, it is tapping into nature’s bounty that Coconuts and Oranges are both hollowed out with contents mixed and frozen, the latter well-sized for one and like a Push-Pop turned organic while Soft Serve made from locally sourced Cream leaves a bit of residual sourness to temper smoked Salt and the sort of Caramel that many will find themselves eating by the spoonful if they first run out of Ice Cream.