Mico arrived in Ecuador in January of last year and little did know that in exactly two months he would have to spend quarantine in his newfound city of Cuenca, in southern Ecuador. Still, he opened the doors of his restaurant in April. His concept is that special and continues to gain momentum every day, one year after the beginning of the pandemic.
Mico created El Oasis as a place to ‘detoxify’ from city stress. He quickly concocted a tasting menu with local, organic, and vegan products. When Annie arrived, his now colleague who joined in July, everything took a turn for the experimental. El Oasis continued to serve gourmet dishes, but with a ‘ritualistic essence’. Also describes as a ceremony that celebrates both good food and healthy eating. And that is how the story of the Cuenca’s (and Ecuador’s) first ceremonial restaurant begins.
First off, you don’t know what the menu will be when you walk in. But you will know this: everything is healthy to the bone. Annie defines it as a holistic experience, one of body, mind, and spirit, where the ‘energy’ of food becomes yours to keep. She even mentions that there are days the restaurant doesn’t open because there are days that are just not favorable for cooking.
Secondly, you can book the experience for your friends and family or, if you prefer, share the same (and only) table with strangers. Mico says that due to the current situation, this arrangement can be unsettling at first, but that the food turns into ritual, people get into it, feel comfortable and enjoy something special they could have never expected. He calls it “learning to reconnect.”
Every dish, even those with the same ingredients, is presented in its own way. “Each is its own artwork,” says Annie. And it all depends, of course, on what the harvest provides. A Mexican, Italian, Arabic or Ecuadorian classic dish will always be created with the produce at hand and the chefs will creatively replace any ingredient required. Of course, it does not make cooking easier, since everything has to strictly align to the restaurant’s ideology of high-level culinary awareness. But beyond the challenge, it is day-to-day entertainment for the entire team.
There are certain protocols you must know before venturing into the El Oasis experience. You must first reserve a week in advance so that the ceremony can be duly prepared in your honor. You will agree on a day. But the time of entry is important as well, since you must arrive fifteen minutes before the chosen time. Once inside, the atmosphere turns pleasant, dynamic, where the joyful team exudes just how much they love what they do. Mico says that no one ever wants to leave once ‘the experience has begun’.
El Oasis is located just outside Cuenca’s Historic Center. Annie and Mico will be happy to offer their ‘intimate dining experience’, without a doubt, a place that will surprise you, with an ever-changing tasting menu of seven dishes and five drinks that will awaken your senses in the healthiest and most conscious way possible.
Mariscal Lamar y Escultor Ayabaca, Cuenca – Ecuador
+593 99 183 7205