Uptown meets downtown at Current Fish & Oyster, Salt Lake’s new seafood restaurant extraordinaire. Trio Restaurant Group owner, Mikel Trapp, and Joel LaSalle, who owns the LaSalle Restaurant Group, have combined their industry strengths and talents in transforming a historic but neglected Broadway building into a contemporary and comfortable dining establishment.
There’s a prevailing attitude that Utahns must import refinement from other cities whose reputations shine with polished pretense. But with Current, and the adjacent, now-open Under Current bar, the creative duo is not laying on the city an incompatible template. Current’s sophisticated ambiance and cuisine, Joel remarks, represent the stature of the present community—cultivated, but without affectation. “Salt Lake needs more sophisticated options,” he maintains. “People want this.”
“Downtown is really taking shape,” Joel notes. “The different development agencies are doing amazing work. We wanted to be close to downtown, and to support the city in what they’re trying to do.” Guided by passion and prowess, the partners purchased the building on the corner of 300 East and 300 South, the site of the first Ford dealership west of the Mississippi.
Joel’s vision shaped the renovation’s design and construction, a deliberate and organic process realized without “detailed blueprints.” “Preserving is one thing,” Joel states, “but we’re in the restaurant business, so we hate waste.” Using every ingredient that was already there, such as the original massive pitched wood roof, the building’s preserved elements embody the essence of the structure’s original function.
Joel was on-site every day during construction, and it was not uncommon for him to see a needed change in medias res. For example, it was obvious to him during the construction of the restaurant’s staircase, that the structure needed to be moved four feet from its originally intended placement. Joel’s discriminating taste, eye for detail and willingness to consider design input from others involved in the project have culminated in the creation of a chic interior contained within the building’s substantial original exterior. “Restaurants are living, breathing entities,” he remarks, “and this building has an amazing energy to it. We’re trying to create a culture. People go out to eat before an event, but we want this to be the event.”
The restaurant and bar’s food and beverages equally complement the au courant ambiance. Mikel and Executive Chef Logen Crew, Joel describes as “culinary geniuses.” The brunch, lunch and dinner menus highlight fresh regional, sustainably sourced seafood, prepared with a “contemporary spin.” Joel notes that the branzino, a European sea bass cooked and served whole, is particularly delectable.
Under Current, the restaurant’s adjoining bar property has recently opened, and if Current’s success is any indicator of how the community will receive the new establishment, Under Current will be humming with nightlife activity. Joel and Mikel knew that Salt Lake City could benefit from the addition of a mature and elegant seafood enterprise, and the restaurant’s immediate success has proven them right. “My projections,” Joel states, “have been blown through the roof.”
Current Fish & Oyster is located at 279 E. 300 South in Salt Lake City. Open Monday-Friday, 11 am-10 pm; Saturday, 10 am-3 pm, and 5 pm-10 pm; Sunday 10 am-3 pm