Caviar and caviar-focused concepts appear to be having a moment. Maybe it’s a nod to the current U.S. president’s famed loved of opulence. Perhaps it’s yet another ripple in the Instagrammable food trend. Whatever the case, a number of new concepts are featuring the luxe, briney fish eggs, along with existing operations highlighting caviar in innovative ways.
1. Growing market and cafe concept
The aptly named Caviar & Bananas, which just opened its fifth outpost, offers a wide range of made-to-order entrees and prepared foods – as well as high-end retail pantry items. The South Carolina-based chain recently launched its first Nashville unit. It serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. The wide-ranging menu includes bakery items and coffee for the morning alongside an evening wine bar/small plates menu that includes market-priced caviar service for two with crostini, egg, onion and creme fraiche. The menu ranges from bowfin row caviar for $22 per ounce to large-sized white sturgeon caviar for $83 an ounce.
2. Range of price points
Billed as “Chicago’s first caviar bar,” Heritage Restaurant & Caviar Bar opened this month in the city’s rapidly gentrifying Humboldt Park neighborhood. The operation features a casual main-floor dining room, more-formal downstairs seating area, bar and 40-seat patio. The menu will feature caviar at various price points, as well as housemade dumplings, noodles, oysters and house-infused vodka on tap. The caviar menu includes more than a dozen varieties, ranging from $10 for a 15-gram portion up to $45 for Pearls d’Escargot from Poland.
3. Creative caviar presentations
Even if caviar isn’t central to the concept, operators are finding novel ways to present the high-end offering. The library-themed Vol. 39 bar at Chicago’s Kimpton Hotel serves five varieties of caviar via a silver cart that’s wheeled tableside. Upscale caviar gets a decidedly everyman treatment in Las Vegas in Rose. Rabbit. Lie.’s caviar tacos, served in Yukon gold potato shells. Also in Las Vegas is the recently introduced Caviar Room at Restaurant Guy Savoy. The space features several different caviar-heavy dishes, including the layered Colors of Caviar parfait-like offering, a five-course caviar tasting menu, and a caviar-topped pot-au-feu that’s served covered by a glass dome filled with seaweed-infused steam made from ionized water.
4. Delivery-only caviar concept failure
Young Fava, a San Francisco-based “virtual” concept generated lots of media attention when it started delivering a high-end menu of caviar service with brown butter crepes, foie gras torchon and even wildflower bouquets for the dining table. It closed after just a few weeks. The operator, though, says the failure was due to overwhelming demand and that his kitchen couldn’t keep up. Anthony Strong says he’s put the operation on hold while searching for a larger kitchen. “That was the moment where I realized there was potential there,” Strong told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I also realized that it wouldn’t take much for that number to balloon to 120 orders.”