Photos by Ted Scheffler and Oasis Cafe.
The Oasis Cafe in Salt Lake City brings new food and drinks items for you to peacefully enjoy for brunch, and they couldn’t have done a better job.
An Oasis in the City
One definition of “oasis” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast.”
Well, that’s a perfect description of Oasis Cafe in Salt Lake City, a somewhat hidden gem of a restaurant that provides contrast to the city’s hustle, bustle and noise; and equally is a place for refuge, respite, and relief.
Nearly 25 years young, Oasis Cafe was established in 1995 by original owners Steve Paul and Jackie Pratt. The Cafe—as well as adjacent Golden Braid Books—was taken over by current owners Joel and Jill LaSalle in 2002, and it continues to thrive and to satisfy.
Joel LaSalle says, “Our goal is to help people every day to have a little bit better life and simply be happier.” Well, mission accomplished. Oasis Cafe is a treasured spot to unwind, unplug (although there’s free Wi-Fi), and enjoy excellent food, drink, and conversation.
I recently was invited to sample some new menu items and drinks at Oasis Cafe, which by the way also now serves brunch daily until 3 pm, with delicious selections such as German buttermilk pancakes ($9), which are oven-baked in a skillet and served with tart and sweet blueberry compote.
New menu items to just die for
Ensconced on the soothing and serene, flower-laden patio, I was introduced to dishes new to the menu like the Oasis Omelet ($11), made with a garden’s worth of good things like diced avocado, shiitake mushrooms, chives, onion, breakfast potatoes, applewood bacon, cheddar cheese, and salsa fresca.
Filet Medallions ($24) were added to the dinner menu and come with roasted heirloom carrots, sautéed kale, roasted potatoes, and honey-mustard vinaigrette.
Some new chicken and seafood dishes will be introduced this month.
The new Strawberry & Arugula Salad ($10) would be terrific anytime but is especially welcome in warm weather. It’s a simple, but beautiful salad of arugula, sliced ripe strawberries, chunks of green apple, crumbled feta cheese, and candied nuts tossed with a judicious amount (not over-dressed) of guava vinaigrette. It’s a simple, but sensational salad.
By the way, if the portions look less-than-generous in some of the photos here, don’t be fooled into thinking that’s what you’ll get at the Oasis. We were served samples of the new menu items that were smaller than normal, allowing us to taste a number of dishes without being overwhelmed and overfed.
For quite a while, one of my favorite lunch menu sandwiches has been the Toasted Brie Sandwich ($10), which is creamy, melted brie on cranberry walnut bread with a side salad of spinach, jicama, cucumber, and candied nuts.
New to the sandwich board this summer is a very tasty Steak Sandwich ($11) made with juicy shaved beef tenderloin, caramelized onion, horseradish aioli, arugula, and provolone cheese on ciabatta bread and served with a house side salad.
Tuna lovers will go gaga over the new Blackened Ahi ($24).
Sushi grade ahi is ever so lightly kissed by heat in a hot skillet—just enough to provide a crunchy outer crust. It’s served with sticky rice, Asian slaw, and sesame vinaigrette.
The ahi dish is just one of many examples of the talent coming from the kitchen, with Jared Young serving as Executive Chef and Efren Benitez as Chef de Cuisine. They, along with a top-notch, seasoned service staff, make dining at Oasis Cafe a can’t-miss proposition.
Also new this summer are some tasty beverage options such as house-made Rosemary Lemonade, a bold new Bloody Mary (see Sip O’ the Week), and a refreshing cocktail that’s perfect for summer:
The Dizzy Gillespie
Named after an Oasis mixologist named Connor Gillespie. In every sip, you get to enjoy the flavors of muddled fresh basil and strawberries with Hidden Vodka and Grandeur Peak Spiked Sparkling Water from Squatters.
Oasis Cafe attracts a lot of folks from the surrounding neighborhood and a strong quotient of regular customers, who shouldn’t worry that their tried-and-true, much-loved dishes are being replaced by newcomers. They aren’t. The new menu items simply complement longtime faves like the Salmon Lox Crostini ($11.50) with salmon, Boursin cheese, baguette crisps, red onion, capers, and tomato confetti.
Sadly, all good things—such as dining at Oasis Cafe—must come to an end.
But before they do, I encourage you to enjoy one of the lovely desserts. An excellent choice is the Lavender Panna Cotta ($7) served with honeyed ricotta cheese, fresh berries, and topped with pistachio crumble.
When a business has been around for nearly a quarter century, it’s all too easy to take it for granted in favor of newer, shinier establishments. But that would be a mistake, because Oasis Cafe is truly a jewel of a retreat in which to enjoy great food, good libations, and cherished company.
Culinary quote of the week:
How luscious lies the pea within the pod. — Emily Dickinson
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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