Otto’s serves classical French food with more than a touch of theatre in the dining room, so expect tableside plating and flambéed dishes. The eccentrically decorated dining room feels cosy, and once inside you will forget you are on a nondescript part of the Grays Inn Road. If you order in advance then you can get some high-end ingredients too, such as Challans duck and Poulet Bresse.
Lobster bisque was good, having quite good flavour intensity, though for me a little more seasoning would have been useful (13/20). Bresse chicken came with a morel sauce. The chicken had apparently been cooked in a pig bladder though it was not presented as such. The bird had good flavour, with truffles inserted under the skin, and was served with an enjoyable morel sauce (14/20). Foie gras was served on bread coated with a sauce made from the liver (14/20).
This was followed by Challans duck flambéed at the table and served with soufflé potatoes. The leg of the duck was served separately. Unlike my previous visit, the duck was correctly cooked and appeared pink, the meat having nice flavour (14/20). The potatoes were sadly overcooked and soggy in texture, a pale shadow of the version at, say, the Ritz (9/20). This was particularly a pity since I recall these being quite good on my previous visit here.
Cheese soufflé was rather odd, the outside almost crispy; go to Le Gavroche to see how a cheese soufflé should be made – “crispy” is not the adjective that one should be striving for. On the side was some Epoisse cheese which was fine, but the soufflé itself was flawed (9/20).
Dessert was an overcooked tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream that needed more vanilla (10/20). Service was very friendly. A friend was taking me here so I am not sure of the bill, though it would have been substantial. If you shared a modest bottle of wine and avoided the pre-ordered dishes such as the duck or chicken then a typical cost per head might be £70. This is a very difficult meal to score, as it was a curate’s egg of a meal. The best dishes such as the Bresse chicken were genuinely good, but these alternated with distinctly flawed dishes such as the potatoes and the cheese soufflé. It is unusual to encounter quite such variation of standard within a single meal at a restaurant. Otto seems a very nice man and they serve the kind of food that I really like: classical French cooking. I just wish they could deliver consistently.
Further reviews: 11th Jun 2013