Joshua Skenes, the chef/owner of the three-Michelin-starred, absolutely essential (and very expensive) San Francisco tasting-menu temple Saison, is expanding. He will add a new casual restaurant to his portfolio called Angler, which will debut in San Francisco in summer 2018 and then in Los Angeles in fall 2018.
Per a press release, the restaurant is a “raw bar and grill,” with both locations offering about 100 seats. As at Saison, Skenes and co. will be working with a wood-fired hearth. Angler will serve dishes like Mendocino sea urchin on grilled bread (perhaps a nod to the famous uni course at Saison??) and spot prawns “grilled over a bed of seaweeds.”
Skenes is known at Saison for innovative hearth cooking and for fusing Japanese influences with local California produce. “Like other brilliant, hell-bent American chefs of his generation, Skenes draws techniques from cooking traditions around the world and weaves them into a personal mosaic,” Eater’s roving critic Bill Addison wrote of a visit to Saison in 2014. “With its nods to Asian and French cuisines boosted by those warm campfire overtones that our nation adores, I suppose the default label is Californian. Maybe we should just call it Skenesian.”
It’s an ambitious yet familiar plan: Fellow California-based chef Thomas Keller has French Laundry and the multi-unit Bouchon; Anne-Sophie Pic has Maison Pic and the more accessible La Dame du Pic (now in London as well as Paris); José Andrés has Minibar and several locations of Jaleo and the Bazaar.
And while Skenes has made his name in the upper echelons of fine dining, this isn’t the first time he’s shown an interest in the casual sector. Back in 2016, Skenes teased plans for a fast-casual noodle bowl concept called Fat Noodle, which he was working on in partnership with Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman. That project has been on an indefinite hold for over a year (read: it ain’t happening). Skenes also had plans to open a San Francisco sushi counter with chef Jiro Lin, who did a pop-up at Saison — Lin has since opened his own restaurant in San Francisco and the joint venture isn’t moving ahead. Skenes is clearly eager to expand. Hopefully these are the projects where he’ll make it happen.