Sometimes, we like to imagine what we’d do for fun if we were billionaires - like go heli-skiing because we no longer taste the danger of normal skiing, or play Monopoly with the global economy. Or build the city’s tallest skyscraper just to put Marc Benioff’s office in a shadow. And after all that, we’d probably get hungry and go to a place like Angler, a seafood restaurant on the Embarcadero. But in reality, we can come here anytime and eat like McDucks without spending our extended family’s life-savings.
If we were doing our best Gavin Belson or Richard Branson impersonation, we’d model our hilltop fortress after this place. There are more taxidermied animals in Angler’s two dining rooms than Teddy Roosevelt’s vacation home, and the bathrooms have Japanese robo-toilets with heated seats and more buttons than the International Space Station. The servers also look like butlers and zip around from table to table with trays of oysters and champagne. And if Branson can own an island and Belson can get his Signature Box, then we can have Angler’s over-the-top kitchen with seafood tanks, a wood-burning oven, and shiny copper plating all visible from your table.
photo credit: Stephanie Court
The food at Angler is delicious and creative - it’s what we imagine Richie Rich probably eats when he wants to feel like a “regular” kid, but can’t escape his parents’ private chefs. Instead of chicken wings, there are fried blowfish tails with a crunchy salt-and-pepper crust, and unlike every other tartare in the city, Angler’s is made with antelope and comes with herbs and lettuce cups. You’ll pick up the Nashville-style hot quail with your hands, and hack into the intense radicchio salad with XO sauce because they come with thick cloth towels and cloth bibs probably salvaged from the wreckage of the Titanic. And while an ice cream sundae for dessert seems straightforward, Angler’s serves theirs exactly how we imagine Richie likes it - with some of the best soft-serve you can find anywhere and peppered caramel poured over top.
Angler is also from the same people as Saison, but is more casual and you can get in and out for about $100. There are some details, though, that seem like they were put here by a 34-year-old trust-fund kid who isn’t fully in touch with reality. If you’re waiting to be seated, servers appear out of nowhere like Lurch from The Addams Family to give you a cocktail menu. And while you’re enjoying a perfectly grilled lobster, it’s easy to get distracted by the Huey Lewis songs being blasted like someone’s trying to show off their expensive speakers. But they’re aspects that can be overlooked, like an overly talkative heli-ski guide, because the food at Angler is a luxury available to everyone - even if you aren’t in the Three Commas Club.
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If you don’t have much to compare antelope meat to, it’s mild and slightly iron-y. Most of the flavor here comes from the herbs sprinkled over the lettuce cups you eat it with, and it’s a nice starter.
Big Eye Tuna With Tomato Jelly & Shiso
This is light, and the tomato jelly is refreshing and acidic. The interesting combination of the jelly and the tuna makes it one of the more memorable dishes on the menu. Order this.
Radicchio With Radicchio X.O.
The radicchio is one of the best things on the entire menu. It’s a whole head of radicchio dressed with an intense XO sauce made from radicchio leaves that’ll wake you up more than a double shot espresso. The red XO can be messy, but this dish comes with a bib, which you should wear if you don’t want to make a trip to the dry cleaner. You’re also given Rambo’s hunting knife to cut it with - it doesn’t make it taste any better, but it’s definitely fun.
Angler Potato & Sauce From Sonoma Cheeses
Thin, thin slices of potato roasted served in a light cheese sauce that would have a larger cult following than ranch dressing if they figured out how to bottle it.
Grilled Parker House Rolls & Butter From Petaluma Cows
You can’t really taste the “grilled” part of these rolls, especially underneath the intense butter they come with, but they’re excellent and we’d serve them at Thanksgiving if we could.
Hot Fried Quail
It’s fun to eat this drippy, saucy fried quail that’s cut into quarters, but the sauce could be hotter.
Some of the best soft serve on this planet comes together with peppered caramel, smoked salt, and cocoa nibs to make an ice cream sundae that can go toe-to-toe with any dessert in existence. We’d stop in just for this.
Angler has a great wine list, but you shouldn’t skip the cocktails. We like the Don Lockwood with scotch, smoked maple, and bourbon, and the Cutloose with gin, passionfruit, and orange.