Harden's survey result
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How did this “oasis of traditional and consistently superb Gallic cooking” end up in a nondescript corner of Bloomsbury? Its overall approach is “pleasantly old-fashioned” but “not stuffy and always with a humorous twist” thanks to the “very personal” attention of “effervescent” patron Otto (who also provides “helpful advice on the impressive wine list”). Top Menu Tip – “the Canard à la Presse helped me find god!”
“The old-school French cuisine you thought had died a death” makes an unlikely find behind an unassuming façade in an “out-of-the-way” corner of Bloomsbury; the “eccentric” interior is “charming in a quiet, old-fashioned way”, but the stand-out attractions are “Otto himself, who’s a star”, “superb” food and “excellent” wine. Top Menu Tips – “sublime” steak tartare, and the “to die for” Canard à la Presse (for which you must pre-order).
“Otto is quite a character”, contributing much to the “pleasingly eccentric” ambience of his “determinedly old-fashioned” Bloomsbury two-year-old; the food is “the sort of French cuisine you thought had died a death”, so don’t forget to order your canard à la presse in advance – pure “theatre”.
“A wonderful surprise in an unprepossessing part of Bloomsbury”; the “very cordial” Otto’s “wonderfully eclectic” yearling has made quite a hit with its “determinedly old-fashioned” Gallic style (and its “astonishing” wine list).
Otto's Restaurant Diner Reviews
"A restaurant which can seat a table of 18 and retain an excellent level of service. And you can't say that about many London restaurants."
Run by the eponymous Otto, a straight-down-the-line Gallic restaurant, offering classic cooking of good quality, in an attractive and characterful Bloomsbury setting.
The idea that a restaurant is an extension of the personality, even the home, of its proprietor is common in France. Witness the number of restaurants called 'Chez' quelqu'un. But you see it surprisingly rarely here. In London, the aim of mid-market restaurants often seems to be de-personalised good taste, rather than any expression of character, or still less of personality.
So we noticed when Otto (for it was he) greeted us as we entered this Bloomsbury restaurant, and was there as we left, too - discussing the menu for that evening with one of his staff. We also noticed that the interior, in a light and airy period room in Bloomsbury, is decked out with that quirky, slightly domestic, taste that the French often apply to restaurants, but which an Englishman would somehow find embarrassing.
As at so many French restaurants, the aim is to do classic dishes well rather than to aim for any particular novelty. Thus our lunch menu for two comprised terrine and scallops, steak and seabass. Nothing to startle, then, but it was striking that everything - from the decent crispy baguette (for once) to the coffee - was done consistently well, and sometimes very well indeed.
For a lunchtime discussion in an unhurried and restful setting, we doubt that - anywhere in the centre of our great city - you could have done very much better than we did on on the day of our visit. And, by night, we fancy this must be quite an old-fashioned-romantic place too.
182 Grays Inn Rd, London, WC1X 8EW
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Last orders: 9.45 pm