With all of the shiny new restaurants popping up in and around SLC, it’s easy to forget about the tried and true ones – those that helped pave the way for the new kids on the block. One such dining destination is Current Fish and Oyster. Not that Current is one of the more ancient eateries around; it was opened in the spring of 2015 by Joes LaSalle and Mikel Trapp. But it’s one of those formidable restaurants that you can always count on for excellent service, outstanding food, and a very appealing ambiance. As my wife and I had not visited there in quite a while, we decided to celebrate our anniversary at Current. It did not disappoint.
If you have the time, I recommend arriving early for your dinner reservation at Current to enjoy a beverage and perhaps a bar snack at Under Current, which is the 21 and over bar adjacent to Current Fish and Oyster. Terrific mixologists like Natalie whip up classic and modern craft cocktails such as the beach-style drink called the Painkilla, made with navy strength rum, pineapple, coconut, orange and nutmeg. There is also a food menu with freshly shucked oysters, ceviche, burgers, fish & chips, tinned fish, salads, tacos and such.
Those who have been around SLC for a while may remember that the space which is now Current Fish and Oyster was the previous home of Salt Lake Antiques, a building dating back to 1906. When LaSalle and Trapp purchased the building from realtor/restaurateur David Harries they, along with architects Louis Ulrich and Kim Webb of Luna Design Group and furniture designer Suzette Eaton, took the gutted space and turned it into an eye-popping one.
Seated at Current and perusing the menu and wine list, we have decisions to make. I love steamed mussels ($18), which are served here with pork belly and hazelnut romescada, but I also really like calamari ($16) and crab cakes ($18). We settled upon sharing the crab cakes as a starter, which are a pair of gorgeous, crisp, crab-stuffed cakes with a peppery piquillo rouille, fresh dill, and bread & butter relish.
I like octopus but hesitate to order it in restaurants since many chefs don’t really know how to handle the eight-limbed mollusc and it tends to be cooked and served tough and chewy. But that is not the case under the guidance of Current’s talented Executive Chef, Manny Acero. The Spanish Octopus was tender and delicious, not to mention a plated work of art. It is grilled and served with eggplant, plump heirloom beans, tomato, and Moroccan olives. A truly memorable dish.
Our server at Current, named Ehsan, was outstanding – both friendly and very informative; he knew the menu and wine list inside-out. It was he, I believe, who recommended the Char-Grilled Sea Bass ($35) to my wife as an entree choice and she loved every bit of it. The boneless, skin-on, dry-aged sea bass was grilled to perfection and served with broccolini, roasted tomato, and chili buttermilk whey – a very innovative preparation from Chef Acero. Other popular entrees include Current’s Fish Stew ($39), Pan-Seared Mary’s Chicken with achiote puree ($26), Seared Scallops ($42), and herb-cured Organic Salmon with orange-tamarind sauce ($32).
Current sells a lot of their popular “Comfort Food” menu items such as Shrimp & Grits ($30) and Fish & Chips ($24). But for me, the ultimate comfort food is a chilled shellfish platter, which is what I ordered, apologizing to Chef Acero for not trying something a little more creative and chef-driven. There are two Seafood Platter options at Current: a half-platter for $75 or a whole one for $150. I ordered the half-platter, which was plenty of food. It was a glorious indulgence of freshly shucked oysters on the half shell, jumbo shrimp, Dungeness crab, and Maine lobster tail served on ice with seafood sauce, mignonette, lemon wedges, and tartar sauce alongside. There are few things more satisfying to me than the sweet simplicity of a chilled seafood platter, which is a good reason all by itself to book a table at Current Fish and Oyster, where the current state of affairs is delectable.
Photos by Ted Scheffler
Culinary quote of the week: “For me, if there’s anything that would represent me and my style of cooking, it would be a seafood platter. Maybe a perfectly shucked oyster with a bit of lemon and cocktail sauce or mignonette sauce.” – Chuck Hughes, Canadian Chef
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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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