A Salt Lake Oasis: Oasis Cafe
Oasis Cafe • 151 S. 500 E.
slc, Utah • 801.322.0404
Monday–Friday: 7–8 a.m. (Coffee & Pastries)
Monday–Thursday: 8 a.m.–9 p.m.
Friday–Saturday: 8 a.m.–10 p.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m.–9 p.m.
If you are a traditional, farm-grown, meat-and-potatoes eater like my grandmother and grandfather were, then this review of Oasis Cafe is not for you. However, if you enjoy fresh ingredients with a twist, then Oasis Cafe in downtown Salt Lake City might just be the place you have been looking for.
Located next to Golden Braid Books, this cafe is the perfect place for a coffee, a spot of tea or a smooth and delicious hot chocolate. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating (the latter is limited in winter months and inclement weather). Owner Joel LaSalle’s goal is to provide a comfortable space that helps provoke a feeling of happiness. The quaint cafe offers a space for inspired conversation, whether that be afternoon out-of-the-office meetings or gatherings with friends over a laugh-inducing dinner. The atmosphere is warm, a place where the food hugs your insides while you sip on anything from water to champagne, and it offers a “casual embrace”—a place to connect to the simple pleasures of life.
I took my aspiring cook of a niece, Taylor, to broaden her palate and cuisine horizons. The Salmon Lox Crostini ($11) satisfied our bellies, tiding us over before the main attraction. Moist, smoked salmon, paired with the crunch of the crostini, provides a perfect blend of capers, onions and tomatoes, leaving your mouth watering for another bite.
Oasis Cafe patron favorites include the Paprika Crusted Chicken ($18), Grilled Salmon ($20) and Stuffed Filet Medallions ($23). Topped with asparagus and cooked to my liking (somewhere between medium rare and medium), the medallions burst with the mushroom-stuffed filling and tenderness of the steak. Laid atop creamy mashed potatoes, the presentation was spot on, as were all of the dishes leaving the kitchen. The honey/lavender polenta cake and arugula paired with the salmon is simply divine, and helps to make this dish my personal favorite. However, the paprika-crusted chicken is a close second, with the combination of sweet corn risotto and avocado salad.
If you are a desserts-first kind of person, the Lavender Infused Panna Cotta ($7) is sweet enough to satisfy and daring enough to tempt. The gelatinous dessert has a milky appearance, and the lavender and honey ricotta cheese infuse the taste of summer while the pistachio adds a satisfying crunch.
Taylor enjoyed the Freshly Made Sorbet ($8), which comprises three flavors—mango, raspberry and strawberry. Her favorite was the strawberry: It was exquisite, as though the strawberries had just been freshly picked from a field on a warm August day. The mango reminds one of handpicking a mango off of a tree in the Bahamas, while the raspberry took me to Bear Lake Raspberry Days.
As a food critic, I personally appreciate the consistency of Oasis Cafe. The food is delicious, nutritious and accordingly priced. After panicking a bit upon first seeing the menu, Taylor ended up enjoying the experience and the flavors at Oasis Cafe. While she was initially nervous about selecting food that challenged the suburb chain restaurants she frequents, her eyes opened to flavor possibilities and the many options that can be ordered vegan (including the salads, fajita plate and eggplant parmesan risotto).
With a local beer list, craft cocktails and a wine list featuring 15 by-the-glass and 3 by-the-bottle selections, Oasis Cafe is a professional’s or entrepreneur’s 4:30 p.m. happy-hour-meetup location for idea generation or goal planning. Perhaps one of the most intriguing things of all about Oasis Cafe is that it welcomes all walks of life. I encountered a couple who reminded me of my grandparents, young adults and families—those thirsty for knowledge of business, and those lost in life-enhancing conversation. I can easily imagine many taking advantage of intimate, spring-through-fall moments in the courtyard.
The cafe also serves as a great date scene. If you are looking for a place to inspire love this Valentine’s Day, Oasis Cafe serves a prix-fixe, four-course menu for $40 per person. Reservations are recommended, as they will sell out for the evening. The ambience is sure to swoon, while the chef’s selection will delight. Visit oasiscafeslc.com for more information about the Valentine’s dinner menu, and if you enjoy cocktails, share an Oasis Desert Rose ($7) with your loved one.
“Not only is this a place for customers to escape, [but] working at Oasis Cafe is like not working at all,” says LaSalle of his restaurant. He feels more like a caretaker than an owner. “It is a great place to visit, even for the 65-member staff.”
Oasis Cafe is transporting. I can take a friend or associate visiting from anywhere in the world and know that they would feel welcome and at ease. It is my new go-to for those visiting Salt Lake City for their first time, and for afternoon tea with girlfriends Downtown. Its inviting charm is something worth keeping alive among the beautiful places of Salt Lake City.
Editor’s Note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated the number of by-the-glass and by-the-bottle wine offerings, as well as the per-person price for the Valentine’s Day menu. The changes have been made.