Here's another installment of my hidden gem series - cafes and restaurants in out-of-the-way locations that are worth your dining dollars.
South Hill is home to strip malls and chain restaurants and a serious shortage of dessert bakeries. With the July closure of the cookie bakery, Cookies Your Way, dessert bakeries on South Hill are pretty much limited to the cupcake bakery Jubilee (or a grocery store or chain).
That's what makes such a find in Oasis Cafe in the Sunrise Medical Campus near Emerald Ridge High School. It’s a hidden gem of a cafe buried in a complex of medical offices. The cafe is difficult to find -look for the lovely dining patio with the gurgling water feature. Inside, you'll find a cafe with an order-at-the-counter protocol and a spacious, light-drenched dining room decorated with religious murals and messages.
What struck me was the display case full of a dozen desserts that had the appearance of a pastry chef at work. A follow-up call to owner Anne Reitzug confirmed that Oasis does employ a staff pastry chef - Sandy Lang, a Graham resident. She works about 20 hours a week at Oasis baking desserts and pastries for the bakery case and for special order.
Lang is a 1989 graduate of the South Seattle Community College pastry arts program. Her early career was short and sweet. She worked at a Danish bakery in Burien and then worked as a self-employed pastry chef baking wedding cakes and desserts for private events before having three children - now ages 16 to 20 - and trading sugar work for mom duties. She entered the pastry world again in 2008 with a very part-time gig baking cinnamon rolls and making cookie dough a few hours a week for Oasis.
Her desserts center on two themes - rich and decadent. Peanut butter cheesecake, German nut torte and a lemon cheesecake are standards in the Oasis bakery case, along with biscotti, cinnamon rolls and coconut macaroons (prices vary, but the main desserts are $4.25). The rest of the desserts are whatever she bakes on a whim or as a collaboration with cafe owner Reitzug, who says Lang was the best thing to happen to desserts at Oasis. Before Lang started baking for her, Reitzug said she was serving prefabricated commercial desserts and they were expensive and not very good. Reitzug and Lang collaborate on desserts that explore the playful side of flavor - like chai or lavender creme brulee. They also occasionally collaborate on gluten-free desserts.
On a recent visit, I dug into a key lime tart with a heavy hit of pucker and a peanut butter cheesecake with a silken, creamy filling. Both were outstanding. I have my eye on the German nut torte for a future visit.
Oasis CafeWhere: 11102 Sunrise Blvd. E., PuyallupInfo: 253-840-2656 or sunriseoasis.com