Our favorite dish of the year—the caviar service at Joshua Skenes’s Angler—is both totally luxurious and unexpectedly fun. And while many of the noteworthy dishes at the restaurant hail from his first location in San Francisco, this one is an L.A. original. Servers prepare the dish tableside from a gleaming cart, and the fancy fish egg vessel isn’t a basic blini but rather delicately flavored banana pancakes. They’re heated over a tiny stove on the cart, then liberally spread with banana-infused butter that melts just enough before being topped with caviar. The result is a dish that takes the marriage of salty and sweet to an unexpected, utterly delicious new place. Of course it’ll cost you—$88 per ounce of caviar, which is ideal for two pancakes—but it’s an unforgettable indulgence. Have a look.
The small flapjacks are flavored with banana in multiple ways. The ripe fruit is used to hydrate the batter. Banana slices are also dried over the fire in Angler’s
massive open kitchen and then turned into a powder that’s added to the pancakes. Doing so, says Skenes, “[intensifies] the banana flavor.”
Skenes buys California white sturgeon roe from a purveyor that he’s relied on for more than a decade. It’s “from a specific farm that we’ve been working with for years to craft our specific taste balance,” says the chef. Before coming to the restaurant, the caviar is cured in a barbecue salt made from deep ocean water off the coast of Monterey.
The creamy stuff is made in house from premium dairy and delicately infused with barbecued banana peels. “The entire banana is utilized, and there is zero waste,” Skenes says.
The pancakes are heated tableside on a vintage stove. Having them at the perfect temp is essential. “It’s kind of like when you eat at a high-quality sushi counter, and they combine cold fish and warm rice and give it to you, you only have a few seconds to enjoy it during its peak taste window,” says Skenes. “It’s all about timing.”