More than Just Another Great Coffee House (much more) in Corrales
The Early Days
Oasis Coffee & Tea started out in November 2009 as a new full-service coffee house in Corrales. We had been watching the building next to the firehouse for signs of life, and yesterday were rewarded with a street sign announcing their soft opening. Grand opening would follow within a week.
As we entered, we were met by Chris Norman, one of the owners (brother Paul and sister Melissa were others). Chris filled us in on the development of Oasis and gave us a tour. The site, not quite finished, is very beautiful with decorations, statuary, and fountains from Penelope’s Garden, a lovely decorators shop just down the road (near Nate & Hannah’s). Oasis and Penelope’s are joint family ventures.
Jane and I had delightful coffees (roasted by a local Corrales roaster), and sat to chat with Chris. He told us about the menu that will be available for the official opening. Pastries, tarts, sandwiches, and even some pizzas will be served. Paul fixed us a “Corrales Hot Dog,” which is a hot dog sliced in half with a white cheese and green chiles grilled on a panini press between two slices of delicious bread. Not like your grandma’s wieners. Wonderful, and if this is representative of their fare, they have a real winner in this place.
On a later visit, I had a double latte accompanied by a Cubano sandwich. The Cubano was just right — pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickle, and mustard on very good bread, and the whole thing grilled to a nutty brown. Almost as good as any Cubano I’ve had in Miami (haven’t been to Cuba yet). Among the best in Duke City.
Corrales needs a place like this. There will eventually be live music (soft, I hope — I suggested string quartets). Oasis is a short walk from my house, and I expect to meet many old and new friends there. See you there. Look for the Cowboy Hat.
And then …
I stopped in Oasis last Sunday with Jane at around 4:00 pm as the place was scheduled to close. It was still crowded, so we stayed and chatted with Chris and Paul for quite a while. They are happy with the response from the community. The interior has been finished, and many lovely fountains are running. Paul told me that Penelope’s Garden, which was near Nate and Hannah’s, has now been closed and the garden business is now an integral part of Oasis. [Nate and Hannah have turned the former space into a consignment shop, according to Paul.]
Some of my dear friends have been to Oasis, and enthusiastically give it thumbs up. Two thumbs up.
And then came the first in a string of changes…
November 12, 2010
It has been just a year since I wrote the first review of Oasis Coffee & Tea in Corrales. I have been there dozens of times during that year, and it has etched a place deeply in my heart.
This place started as an unassuming local coffee shop with fine baked goods, a small selection of sandwiches, and gallons of coffee laced with ambition. The Normans have now morphed it into a constantly maturing Albuquerque destination. They have added a gallery of art, live music, a fine wine bar, and expanded menus, which include fine food on Friday and Saturday evenings.
A visit two nights ago to celebrate my 75th birthday was charming and low-key. We ordered from the current tapas menu
- Brochetta con chile verde — local roasted spicy and hot green chile with sliced green tomato. Spectacular.
- Gambas al ajillo — shrimp cooked with organic garlic and spices, with an organic salad,
- Pan Chorizo — grilled bread covered with mozzarella and spicy chorizo (not greasy!), and
- Brochetta con lomo al horno — oven baked pork covered with brie and organic thyme. Most dishes were accompanied by a salad of organic greens coated with an oil-balsamic dressing, which was beautifully done.
There was a talented piano player deftly and unobtrusively filling the room with delightful sounds. As we finished our meal and were relaxing with some wine, the piano playing became louder and more strident with the strains of “Happy Birthday” as we saw Paul and more of the staff carrying a chunk of chocolate cake with a single lighted candle while singing the familiar tune that I have heard over the past three-quarters of a century. And the cake was terrific, too.
Great meal. Great company. You need to get into your car (or onto your horse, if you live in Corrales) and get right over here. Now. You might find me here. Or maybe even Michael Knutson, a regular denizen. It’s a comfortable-living-room kind of place.
And they added more fine food…
The tapas menu was short lived. A new chef was hired, and he prepared some exquisite food for us.
Shiitake Mushroom Bread Pudding. This is not like any bread pudding that you are likely to encounter anywhere else. Unique. No bread. More to the point, it is an entrée, and it consists of shutake mushrooms and asparagus atop some field greens. Fabulous meal. Wants a slightly fruity white.
Molten Choclate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream. Everybody makes this, right? Yeah, but not like The Oasis. This is incredibly rich and smooth, like death by chocolate. I would return for just this dessert. Anytime.
And then, more changes…
June 29, 2011
The Oasis is constantly cganging its visage. What started as a simple coffee house has matured into a restaurant with Fine Food, excellent wines, good music, and above all, a charming place in which to meet (and make new) friends. Paul and Chris wanted their place to become Corrales’ Living Room. It has.I loved this place when it started, and it just keeps on getting better.
You can (and should) subscribe to their email newsletter. This is an excellent way to find out what’s going on there (like Get your Geek On! Come visit on Wednesday (0800-0930pm) for Pub Quiz Night, hosted by Geeks who Drink). Find out who’s playing the music. See latest food specials.
And then, a new beginning…
During the past years, Oasis has been struggling with its identity. Changes came more often, and it seemed to me that there was no guiding plan. Took some guests there for what we hoped would be a lovely breakfast, and were surprised that it was no longer available. Offerings became a moving target. We returned omn April 8 for a quick double latte before a short road trip and were surprised to find a full-scale Sunday brunch being served. And, in talking with Paul, I found out that he made hos own version of bread pudding to be served during Friday and Saturday evenings with dinner. Being a conformed bread pudding freak, I returned with Jane thenext Friday for dinner and some of that bread pudding. The mayor came in shortly after we were seated.
We were surprised to find that the name had been changed and the menu had changed yet again. The new menu is bistro food (steaks, pork (porterhouse cut), fish, pastas, and more. The food selections are now in keeping with the new name: Oasis: A Desert Bistro.
We ordered from the interesting new menu, and when we were nearly finished, Paul came by our table with the new chef, Gil Gonzo. Seems that Paul had sensed that many of the patrons had not been happy with the unpredictable changes, and they entered into a joint ownership with Gil. Gil told me that the menu would remain constant for quite some time and that patrons would get a new sense of continuity. At last, a viable plan for this lovely house. And Gil is very talented. Yay!
And we had a lovely meal.
New York-Style Buffalo Wings (Red Hot)
Flash fried and served with celery/carrots and bleu cheese dip.
There are dozens of places in the Duke City that serve wings. None is nearly as good as these. Good quality chicken with no discernible fat, they are expertly cooked and served with a really red-hot sauce. These are among the best I’ve had (even in Buffalo NY). They want a glass of beer with them. I could go here some evening and eat several orders of these beauties. With several beers (I live within walking distance and don’t need a DD).
Pan flash-fried with herbs, butter, lemon and white wine.
If there is a trout on the menu, Jane will order it. This one is a medium pink hue, and Gil had cooked it perfectly. Neither underdone and mushy nor overdone and hard and dry, it had that out-of0the-water-and-into-the-pan taste and texture. Lovely.
This is a center-cut chop deboned and grilled to perfection Add grilled onions and mushrooms.
I am very fussy about the cooking of pork. It should be still barely pink inside in order to remain juicy and tender. If even slightly overdone, it gets dry and tough. Gil did this perfectly. The fries are hand cut, with no two pieces the same size. Not even a hint of grease or oil, they were delicious. No frozen crap here. This could easily become a new favorite.
Paul’s Bread Pudding
If you read my reviews, you are surely aware that I am a bread pudding freak, as is my friend Gil Garduño. Paul Norman’s version immediately sprang forth to #5 on my Bread Pudding Hall of Fame. This is a dense bread pudding with nuts and is topped with crème Chantilly laced with a bit of brandy. It sits atop a sweet-tart sauce made of lemon, sugar, and a few other secret ingredients. This sauce soaks into the bottom half of the baked pudding, giving the dish an unusual combination of textures. Jane loved it; it was not too sweet for her.
This was a highly successful meal and it showed loving preparation and attention to detail. The New Oasis has arrived, and it is a hit.
Yet another rejiggering
Gonzo gone. Menu revised. Hours changed again.
Here are some images of new menu items.
Paul keeps changing the menus and hours. You should call ahead to see what’s yp for the day. If you just want to be surprised, just show up. Everything is bery good here. The wine selection is small, but has some very good wines at fair prices.
After three years, I still love this place. And it is within easy walkng distance from my Corrales house. See you there.
I started out loving Oasis even before it was officially open for business. Then things got confused. Now all is right with Oasis Desert Bistro. I have no doubt that Gil, Paul, and Chris will keep the place as good as it was on our latest visit. Oasis should become a destination restaurant. I think it’s that good. Meet me there.
Finally, a real Corrales Living Room had arrived wearing new clothes.