While our Great Salty Lake is a thing of stark and buoyant beauty, this land-locked locale’s not exactly known for producing a bounty of edible aquatic cuisine. As much as we love our snowy mountains, red rock canyons and trout-rich streams, we still get that tug of longing for beach sand between our toes, the invigorating crash of waves, and of course, coastal eats. Those bright, briny flavors get us every time: the unique balance of crisp bite and voluptuous sweetness that only comes from wicked-fresh seafood. But since the last time Utah had oceanfront real estate dated roughly to the Late Cretaceous period, we’ll count our asses lucky that Current Fish & Oyster is right downtown.
they’re all about satisfying our shaky jones for maritime munchies.
Pulling from a world of subtle flavors balanced with straightforward preparations, Chef Logen Crew (formerly at Fresco, Log Haven) and team are creating a lively menu of pelagic plentitude, one delightful plate at a time. Want oysters? Oh, they’ve got ‘em. From both coasts and half a world away, cracked open fresh-to-order and accompanied with a choice of traditional cocktail sauce, spicy ponzu, or a dreamy cucumber mignonette. Chef Crew’s also got the invertebrate scene dialed in for those who prefer a little sear on their shellfish. Some of our favorites from the open kitchen’s lively grill section include West Coast oysters grilled with a kickass garlic-caper-herb butter. And what’s already become an automatic order: luscious chunks of flash-grilled calamari tossed with slivers of charred jalapeño, tumbled over a bliss-inducing lemon aioli sauce (we’d love if they’d start selling it to-go by the quart). Addictive Smoked Clam Dip with crispy potato chips; a fresh chip & dip combo that’s unlike anything your Aunt Myrtle ever brought to a family potluck, bless her heart.
Still hungry? Not for long.
Broiled and served whole, Current’s Branzino (best shared with a friend) is truly a thing of crusty-skinned beauty, worth each moment of bone-picking effort to get every last succulent bite. Folks love scallops, and Chef Crew’s sending his popular seared version out on a delicate carrot-ginger broth with spring veggies. They’ve got some of loveliest fish & chips in town, with both the fish and a crunchy shoshito pepper crisped in ale batter, plated alongside zesty coleslaw and a generous platter of hand-cut, skin-on fries just made for dunking in the tangy house remoulade or caper-happy tarter sauce. We’re sure the non-aquatic offerings are stellar given Chef Crew’s talent (burger, chicken, steak, vegetarian pasta selections, salads), but we were too busy slurping down oysters to get to them. #sorrynotsorry You’ll also want to leave room for dessert, thanks to the pastry genius of Alexa Norlin (you’ve had her killer stuff at Café Trio and Rye). Our editor could not step off the nads of the cinnamon gelato (highly unflattering image below for proof), and we had dueling spoons over the paradoxically luxurious and light yuzu posset, a velvety citrus custard zapped with whimsical notes of rosemary and dusted with an ethereal olive oil powder cloud.
We COLLECTIVELY dig it when SLC businesses support adaptive re-use and historic preservation, and Current’s owners (a joint venture with Mikel Trapp of Trio and the La Salle Group restaurants) have done a bang-up job of restoring the exposed brick walls and glorious barrel ceiling of the old Ford auto dealership while making the joint sing a decidedly modern tune. It’s got a glam-meets-gritty upscale urban vibe, and nails the details that make a meal a reason to linger at Current: comfy banquets and booths, heavy linens, great lighting, a big bank of south-facing windows muted by custom frosted-glass panels. Chef Crew has taken the same level of precise dedication to sourcing the menu, even with seafood being one of the most notoriously shit-tastic environmental nightmare sources to procure. He’s using a handful of seafood purveyors who adhere to strict standards emphasizing sustainability and well-managed fishery practices. Says Crew, “one of our distributors even provides a guide for the shipment that lists where each fish comes from, right down to which boat it was caught on and where they caught it.” We’re looking forward to sampling what Logen can get his hot paws on for specials season by season.
and lest we forget the drink.
Naturally, we made it a point to enjoy the superbly curated beverage menu collaboration of wine/spirits guru, Jimmy Santangelo, and SLC’s own doyenne of drinks, Amy Eldredge (formerly at Bar X). Globally-sourced wines by the bottle or glass, thoughtfully selected to complement the variety of Current’s menu, with four wines available on tap in either 10 or 22 oz. carafes. Amy E.’s keeping the booze ship tight and tasty with a slew of refreshing cocktails. At lunch, the day drinking begins with snazzy options like blackberry-bourbon lemonade. Nighttime sippers do not disappoint (like Jimmy and Amy would ever let us down? Not fucking likely). Dainty miniature “oyster back” cocktails are available for four bucks, specially concocted to go with, duh, oysters. The grapefruit and honey-hued Brown Derby is all about making bourbon-lovers happy. For a lighter drink profile try the rum and mint-forward Ponce de Leon served with an effervescent sparkling wine floater, or a spin on the James Bond classic, a Vesper (gin, vodka, Lillet Blanc, and likely stirred with tears of joy). We’re looking forward to sampling more of their superlative selections when the attached full-service bar, the Under Current Club, will open to much anticipation later this spring.
Current Fish & Oyster recently opened for lunch service, to the praise and rejoicing of many a downtown office dweller come noontime. They’re planning to dip their toes in the weekend brunch pool soon, too, and we’ll believe there’s a benevolent deity involved if we see their fab Crab Cakes served eggs Benedict-style with lemon aioli. Amen. Until we can get our toes in the seawater and our ass in the sand, you’ll find us regularly on Current’s sunny patio with a bottle of rosé, gleefully annihilating an assortment of raw oysters and grilled cephalopods. But get your own damn posset; we’re not sharing.