Michelin Stars for Celiacs: Angler, San Francisco: Not recommendedpersonal food · one-star · celiac-stars
As some folks might be aware, I became allergic to gluten and dairy through the spring of 2019, and have been avoiding them in my diet since. Becca and I have not lost our passion for eating great foods, and visiting some of the fantastic restaurants in the cities we visit (although, in 2020, this has meant a lot of places in the Bay Area). One of the things that we’ve struggled a bit with is finding out how well some of the Michelin star establishments handle the gluten-free, dairy-free diet. This weekend, after a visit to Angler - down on the Embarcadero, here in San Francisco - we discussed that it’d be useful if there was more information available for folks that are celiac and interested in fine dining. So this is the first post – I’ll try and add some reviews of previous places we’ve eaten through the next few weeks.
Before we visited, I had called and let Angler know that I was celiac, and had a dairy allergy – they had noted this, and assured us that this was something that could be catered for. It’s a shame that this information wasn’t available beforehand, but it was a positive that the staff seemed knowledgeable (asking about whether soy was OK).
At the restaurant, we had a much worse experience – Becca has eaten at Angler a few times, and we’d eaten together there. We were fairly optimistic that some of the dishes (a fantastic tuna tartare for example) would be something that I could eat. The waiter assured us that rather than listing out what I couldn’t eat, we should order and he’d let us know what was available. This was great, as often with allergies you’re just worried about can’ts, so having a “can” approach was great.
However, when I came down to it - the “no modifications” approach that Angler chooses meant that the vast majority of the food wasn’t compatible with my diet. I actually had to go through about four different orders before we simply asked for the list of things I was able to eat – hugely disappointing given the information we’d received before we’d got to this stage.
Despite sticking to what was listed as celiac-compatible, the meal was lacklustre:
- The tuna tartare is pre-made, and already combined with the green tomato jelly beforehand. Since this jelly contains soy sauce, the dish wasn’t something I could eat. It was disappointing that they couldn’t serve just the elements of the dish that were OK.
- The lobster and crab grilled dishes they have are not celiac-friendly. This was confusing to me since presumaby they would cook a lobster to order – I’m not really clear what gluten or dairy it needed to contain. Perhaps this is to do with cross-contamination, but in general, the Angler staff hadn’t mentioned this to us.
- Oysters - as expected - are OK, but one is limited to solely a lemon juice (not even a vinegar and shallot), which makes them great oysters, but not worthy of the Michelin star that Angler boasts.
- The Hen of the Woods mushroom - which was grilled and has a delightfully smoky flavour last time I ate it, was served with a warning that the sauce was not celiac-friendly, and hence was exceptionally dry and quite frankly, boring.
- The scallops were exceptionally plain - with a touch of olive oil, and nothing else. Again, not worthy of the Michelin star.
Whilst our sommelier was fun to chat with - we found that the bar selection wasn’t great either. I’d asked to finish off with an espresso martini, but this wasn’t possible. After some conversation, I tried their tasty mezcal-based old fashioned - which ended the meal on a slight high, although it’d have been nice to have a bit more selection.
Overall - I’d say if you’re celiac, avoid Angler - it’s simply not worth eating here to be so limited and have so little flexibility in the menu. Despite not recommending visiting, I should say that I experienced no reaction to the meal, so the restrictions were successful in providing a meal, just not an exciting or good one – and not one that I would recommend. Becca’s (non-celiac) meal was tasty - but again, you’re hoping that the experience for the group will be good - a key part of such a dining experience - and we were left somewhat disappointed.