I wrote a little about Otto’s in my last blog, and I just wanted to underline its brilliance again.
Generally you would think an empty restaurant best avoided. When we ate at Otto’s last Friday, nestled between a dry cleaners and a sushi shop, there was only one other table occupied. Occupied by a couple of slightly older gents – media types? or just a couple of friends like us? No matter.
Otto’s was a sea of calm, and the lack of a packed house was a luxury that just enhanced the lunch. The waiter told us they were full the night before, for the following evening and Saturday too.
Like Mandy Rice Davies, he would say that wouldn’t he.Possibly.
But as I say, on this occasion sparcity of clients was a luxury, Otto and his staff could concentrate just on us. It was incredibly personal, and incredibly professional, faithful to the traditional French restaurant that Otto’s aspires to be.
At the same time, while the waiters would probably have liked us to move on, there was no pressure, no rushing. Indeed,they took the opportunity to instruct the younger staff on cleaning plates properly, polishing glasses…in short the art of traditional dining. It is always a pleasure to see such pride shown in a chosen profession, and seeing that it is not just for show. Living in France, and seeing a waiting staff entirely French, it is endearing, in this troubled land, that “waiting on” is still very much considered a profession.
Of course you don’t have to have pressed duck, you can have a pressed lobster… or more reasonably either a set lunch or other mets from the à la carte menu. As Jay Rayner wrote, if you don’t love Otto’s, you have no soul. With the Elgin Marbles on the walls and Marilyn Monroe cushions on the banquettes it’s a fabulous mishmash. I cannot recommend a Friday afternoon there enough.
Alas, only Otto is allowed to do the Crêpes Suzette, and he had sadly left by the time we wanted dessert. So here as a tribute is Kenneth William’s hilarious song for this venerable dessert.
They even packed up the last quarter litre of sauce, so my sister could enjoy it on some pasta. La classe!