Current Fish & Oyster: Get Swept Away

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 Photos: Talyn Sherer

Current Fish & Oyster has submerged Salt Lake City’s dining scene in fresh seafood, skillfully and simply prepared. Chef Logan Crew and his culinary team have created a refined menu of delicious hot and cold small plates, artfully composed salads and traditional entrées. James Santangelo, Utah’s favorite wine and spirits guru, constructed the beverage program featuring innovative cocktails and wine on tap.

Overhauling a historic building from the early 1900s into a trendy, upscale restaurant is no small feat. The renovation was pricey, coming in at around $1 million. Hues of silver and blue create an elegant, relaxing atmosphere. A glass sculpture on the wall decorated with ripples and fish reminds of being near water. Red brick outside the building adds a grounded, earthy element. Vaulted sky-high ceilings make the restaurant feel spacious. On chilly nights, a glowing fire pit on the patio welcomes diners. Current Fish & Oyster is certainly Salt Lake City’s prettiest restaurant—and the food is superb. They fly fresh fish in daily from both the East and West coasts. If you can’t get to the ocean, bring the ocean to you.

The Smoked Clam Dip ($9) is a great way to start a meal. Two scoops of clam dip dressed with olive oil and green onions are surrounded by housemade potato chips. Salty and smoky flavors with fresh green onions get taste buds grooving and ready to eat more. Another option is the Current Shrimp Cocktail ($12). Served with five sizeable shrimp, brightly colored pickled veggies and wedges of lemon, it’s a beautifully simple dish. A classic tangy cocktail sauce and a creamy remoulade round out the bright, clean flavors.

The Clam Chowder ($6) is a modest yet delicious dish. I especially loved this chowder because it wasn’t as gloppy and thick as others I’ve had around town. Meaty clams and potatoes swim in a delicate, velvety-smooth broth flavored with celery and bacon, topped with croutons and scallions. A napkin neatly folded under the bowl is a cozy detail.

Raw oysters with Oyster Back cocktails showcase Current’s seafood expertise. Photo: Talyn Sherer
Raw oysters with Oyster Back cocktails showcase Current’s seafood expertise.

If you’re pussy-footing around ordering raw oysters, start with the Grilled West Coast Oysters ($9). It’s a dish unlike anything you’ve had before in Salt Lake City. Buttery and sumptuous, the oysters melt in your mouth. And of course: Order the raw oysters. They taste like the ocean served with a refreshing cucumber mignonette or cocktail sauce. Oysters have a wonderfully smooth texture. Some people swallow them whole, but that is wrong—one needs to chew the oyster meat to release the full flavor. It’s also really fun to eat with your hands. Dress your oyster with a little dressing (or not), lift the shell to your lips and slurp away. At $2.75 each or $16 for a half dozen, fresh oysters are a reasonable extravagance.

My absolute favorite thing to order at Current is oysters paired with Oyster Backs, teeny-tiny cocktails carefully constructed to pair with the fresh taste of oysters. Current’s mini-cocktails are only $4 each, so it’s totally reasonable to order all three. The Cucumber cocktail is an exhilarating combination of gin, cucumber juice and lime, pairing expertly with the cucumber mignonette. The Botanical is a sophisticated blend of vermouth, celery and grapefruit bitters.

Brunch offers unique seafood options as well as typical brunchy fare. The Seared Trout ($17), served with artichoke aioli, horseradish mustard and fingerling potatoes, is on my list to order next time. The 3rd and 3rd Omelet ($10) was tasty and well-prepared, studded with bacon, green onions and Cotwald cheese speckled with onion and chive, and served with home fries. What really impressed me were the brunch cocktails. The Bloody Mary ($8) was topped with a meaty shrimp, pickle and pickled pearl onion. The drink was spicy and savory, and put my homemade version to shame. The Violet Fizz ($9) is a bewitching combination of gin, crème de violette and lemon. It looks like a witch’s brew—a moody lavender hue topped with pristine white fluff. I’ve been suspicious of egg whites used in cocktails, but now I understand the appeal. It creates the most angelic, silky foam.

The dinner menu is impressive. Branzino ($30) is a dramatic dish—a whole fish, head to tail, is served atop sautéed greens and covered with marcona almonds. The meat was delicate, flavored with olive oil and salt. Digging though the itty-bitty bones to the tender meat and constructing each bite with tender sautéed greens and crunchy almonds was beyond satisfying. This dish is meant to be shared, but I finished it. Fish not your dish? No problem. The Oven Roasted Chicken ($19) is a comfort food dream come true. Two pieces of tender, moist, flavorful chicken are paired with mashed potatoes, rich with buttermilk and dressed with a lemon pan sauce.

The dessert menu is full of unique, delectable options from pastry chef Alexa Norlin. House-Made Doughnuts ($7) are a must. Warm, delectable fried orbs are dusted with cinnamon sugar and served on a bed of homemade caramel corn. Other options—such as the Yuzu Posset ($7) or the Honey Pie ($8)—are just as clever.

It’s a pleasure to dine at Current. The service is top-notch—friendly and helpful without hovering. We may be landlocked, ensconced by beautiful mountains, but Current Fish & Oyster is exactly what Salt Lake City needed: a modern, upscale seafood restaurant in a gorgeous building.