Story and photos by Claire McArthur
In the cozy, natural light-filled downtown digs of Oquirrh, the mix of comfort-meets-modern is reflected not only in the aesthetic of the new restaurant but in its thoughtfully crafted menu.
“We wanted to do something very localized—something from the heart,” says chef Andrew Fuller, who owns the restaurant with his wife Angie. “We have been labeled as fine dining by other outlets, but I don’t really see it that way. We do serve nice food, lots of local and organic goods, so our prices match what we put into the food, but in terms of the service and atmosphere, it is pretty casual.”
Oquirrh—named for the oft-overlooked mountain range forming the west side of Salt Lake Valley—opened its small but beautiful space in February after a two-year search for the perfect location.
Andrew previously worked at the Copper Onion (where he met Angie), served as the chef de cuisine at Pago and helped open nearby HSL. Angie brings experience in food and beverage management and front-of-house operations at Hotel Park City, Post Office Place and the Copper Onion.
With the help of local creatives, the Fullers designed an atmosphere that is elevated yet comfortable. Crisp white walls are contrasted with a blue-gray wainscot and feature a rotating collection of art, currently the work of painter Kirsten Merinda. The plates and bowls are made by local ceramicist Zach Braman. But the centerpiece of the restaurant is the black-and-white patterned tile bar with a smooth walnut top.
“We definitely went for a clean and crisp look,” says Angie. “We had fun with our friend and designer, Jeff Landry, who doesn’t normally do restaurants, but he put some love into it with us.”
The menu features a handful of unique small plates, but a fan favorite is the starter known simply as “Carrots.” “We reimagined this dish from my time at Pago, and it’s made entirely of carrots,” Andrew says.
The base of the dish is a roasted carrot puree topped with baby carrots braised in carrot juice, sliced raw carrots and miso-cured carrots. The carrot juice is then reduced to a vinaigrette to drizzle on top. The leftover pulp from the carrot juice is folded with brown rice to make carrot crackers for texture. Finally, the dish is dolloped with carrot-top pesto and fried carrot tops.
It’s this attention to detail and ingredients that makes the dishes at Oquirrh special, including the much-loved duck entree, which evolves with the seasons. Currently, a duck breast and roulade are served atop a sourdough pancake—made from the same in-house starter used to make the bread—mixed with corn and green onions. Mushrooms and kale round out the dish, which is drizzled with a huckleberry jus.
As an ode to his childhood and his “mother’s night off” meal, Andrew put an elevated chicken pot pie on the menu. “It was something that reminds me of growing up, but we wanted to do a really proper French-style version with a nice pastry and presented dramatically with the bone sticking out of it,” Andrew says.
“The Oquirrh Mountains are often overlooked or underappreciated because the Wasatch Mountain Range is taller and more dramatic. It gets all of the attention,” Andrew says. “With the name Oquirrh, it’s a nod to our smaller mom-and-pop approach to representing the Salt Lake Valley.”
368 E. 100 South, SLC