When we first arrived, I thought it would be a perfect place to take my girlfriends who are traveling to Chicago next weekend for my bachelorette soiree. The space is chic and ultra-contemporary, with bare brick walls and white wood floors. The starkness is offset with large striped curtains and orange chairs that reminded me of Tetris blocks. Fabulous cocktails enhance the trendy feel and the prices are reasonable for an upscale restaurant in the warehouse district.
They’re doing a lot of things right at Otom…
- The Pale Moon martini, made with vodka, lychee syrup, house sour and vanilla bitters, was delicious.
- The butter changes daily. Our warm bread came with truffle honey butter that nearly took my breath away.
- The Forager’s Plate, which is their vegetarian entrée, was quite impressive. It also changes daily; mine was a risotto cake served with grilled baby portabellas, fiddleheads* and a variety of accompanying greens, flavored with what tasted like a sesame-based reduction.
- The presentation was as artful as the interior design.
But, I was much less impressed with:
- The “mac and cheese” (quotation marks theirs and well-deserved) – made with trofie pasta, béchamel and peas – was bland and dry.
- The gnocchi in the German potato salad appetizer was so doughy that I wondered if they’d forgotten to cook it.
- The wait between courses and drinks was inexcusable, not that they even tried to excuse it.
Also, I must share this anecdote and warning. Don’t put your purse on the floor. Find a way to hang it on the weird cubey chairs. A light in the floor burned my purse so badly that the bottom peeled off and when I picked it up, it skimmed my foot and resulted in a blister. I’m not making this up. When we told the staff, they apologized but offered nothing to compensate for the ruined bag and seared foot. A different kind of person would take advantage of this liability. Me? I just blog about it.
Anyway, I may not subject my bachelorette party to Otom, but I probably will go back some time. The good parts were excellent and I learned from my experience to avoid their botched pasta interpretations. As for the long waits, maybe they were having a bad night. I’ll give them another chance. If they do me wrong again, I’ll simply place my bag on the floor lighting and stay an extra hour. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, purse fire. That’s what I always say.
* What are fiddleheads? They’re the adorable and tasty unfurled fronds of young fern. They look like this:
I’m on a bit of an unlucky roll here. Just as it happened to me at Anteprima, I got my hopes up about Otom and was let down. However, to be fair, I would consider Anteprima to be in the ”Oh well, my expectations were too high” letdown category. Otom, for me, was in “What’s that Lassie, Otom fell down a well?” letdown category.
Going in, I was under the impression that as Moto’s sister restaurant, Otom was run by the same chef, Homaro Cantu. I thought Otom may be the cheaper bistro version of that molecular gastronomic delight. It was not, and Cantu apparently has nothing to do with this place.
That misconception is my fault, not the restaurant’s. But I don’t want you going in with the same idea.
I found the menu to be slight, and the food to be uninspired. Unlike my lovely fiance, I liked the German potato salad gnocchi, though the texture was odd. My smoked pork chop was just boring. And the mac and cheese wasn’t even worth finishing.
So, if the lady wants to try it again, I’m not sure who she’ll go with. I have no interest in going back.
Sorry that this post is so short, but like the menu, Otom left me uninspired.