Dinner – Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Josh Skenes’ new restaurant has been open for a few months, but I hadn’t the time to visit until now – of course, it had to be on the heels of it being named one of Esquire’s best new restaurants of 2018, driving its popularity through the roof. Fortunately, I shared this meal with a friend of the house, and another diner who has eaten at every 3* restaurant in the world – all I needed to do was show up, lean back and enjoy! Our group of four hungry diners ate our way through a decent portion of the menu (and a few bottles of wine to match) – here is what we had.

House-pickled peppers

Scallop, amberjack, fluke
The raw scallops, an off-menu dish, were the highlight. Simply served with diced apple, (olive?) oil and wasabi – they had superb texture and sweetness.

Big-eye tuna tartare, tomato gelée
Antelope tartare, egg yolk sauce

Parker House rolls, Angler butter

Santa Barbara spot prawns
We ripped into these with our hands – delicious.

Radicchio, X.O. sauce
The X.O. was quite sweet, which nicely balanced the bitterness of the vegetable. A lot of in-your-face flavours here, and layers of textures to boost the effect.

Brussels sprouts

Salt and pepper bass

Little abalones

Crispy maitake mushroom

Hot fried rabbit
Nashville-style fried rabbit, stuffed with a farce of its meat – hometown meets haute. This was superbly done – my dish of the evening. It even came with fixings on the side like buttermilk and pickles (but no white sandwich bread!)

Whole pastured chicken

Embered ruby beet

New Orleans coffee granita

Milk soft-serve
Embered caramel, cocoa nibs

The Saison ethos is obvious here – find great ingredients, treat them simply, bring out the best of each. Angler is not Saison-light, however – the two restaurants serve vastly different numbers of diners and some things just cannot be done at scale. Angler’s menu is squarely a build-your-own-adventure (although the larger dishes would be challenging for groups smaller than four). If I still lived nearby, I’d certainly pop in frequently for some of the smaller bites. I can’t say if it’s the best new restaurant this year, but it was certainly a very enjoyable dinner.

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