Harden's survey result
“A joyous celebration of how restaurants used to be and how they should be”; “eccentric Otto” is “a breath of fresh French air”, and his “gift of showmanship”, “traditional service” and “classic Gallic cuisine” – all in a “pleasant and old-fashioned”, if slightly “faded”, dining room in out-of-the-way Bloomsbury – is part of a nowadays “unique” approach that most diners feel is “always a wow”. “Otto’s duck and lobster à la presse is superlative” (he’s recently added pigeon too), “the steak tartare is London’s best” and such culinary throwbacks form part of a “magnificent”, unreformed, old-school menu. Caveats? – some of the food is “devastatingly cream-rich – not all modern eaters could manage it” – and “though it’s all very likeable, watch out as the bill stacks up quickly”. “But it’s one-of-a-kind”.
“Immune to trends and setting its own agenda” – visiting this “old-fashioned” Bloomsbury parlour is a little “like stepping back a generation”. “Wonderful, old-fashioned, French, classic cuisine” is served in a “delightful” dining room, overseen with “charming professionalism” by the owner Otto (“invariably there”) who is “amusing and fun”. Top Menu Tips – “everyone raves (rightly) about the pressed duck and Poularde de Bresse, but Otto also does the best Steak Tartare in the UK (made at the table with Otto’s inevitable theatrical flourish)”.
“For a superb, Escoffier-style dining experience”, this “quirky”, unpromising-looking fixture on a grungy, out-of-the-way Bloomsbury street might seem an improbable destination, but it’s something of a “dream restaurant”. “Proper, old-school, luxurious French gastronomic dishes” are “served with charm and wit by Otto himself” in an “attractive and old-fashioned” room (“where you can hear yourself speak”). Top Menu Tip – “everyone should go here for the pressed duck at least once in their lives”.
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!”
Otto's Restaurant Diner Reviews
"A wonderful throw back to halcyon days when one didn’t think of what you were eating and just tucked in with reckless abandonment; also a wonderful reminder of what traditional, classic French cuisine is like and why it has led the world for as long as it has as the good standard in culinary skill. We came here for the famed duck à la presse - staggering good. Wonderful wine list. Wonderful experience with plenty of theatre with table-side service. Food was prepared with care, attention and a high level of skill; the output was flawless. A very memorable gastronomic experience; not to be repeated often if you care about your waistline or artery linings, but WHAT A PLACE!"
"Good food; patchy service. Will need to save up for pressed duck or lobster! Poulet de Bresse not cheap either."
|Wine per bottle||£30.00|
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 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8EW
|Tuesday||12 pm‑2:15 pm, 6 pm‑9:30 pm|
|Wednesday||12 pm‑2:15 pm, 6 pm‑9:30 pm|
|Thursday||12 pm‑2:15 pm, 6 pm‑9:30 pm|
|Friday||12 pm‑2:15 pm, 6 pm‑9:30 pm|
|Saturday||6 pm‑9:30 pm|