It’s kind of funny that F and I have spent only one Valentine’s Day together – I seem to be overseas on that day all the other years. This year… was no different, as I hared off with a few friends to snowy Japan for two weeks (fear not, I shall start posting my Nihon eats soon!).
Not that I take much notice of V Day, as I firmly believe it’s more for singles than established couples (am I being cynical here?), I am not one to pass on a good excuse to use as a last-hurrah / early V Day dinner. So I secretly booked ourselves in for the night before I left and made him close his eyes the entire way to the restaurant (more for my own amusement than anything else bahahaha).
With quite a range of delicious sounding dishes, it was hard to decide what to order. It took us a while, but once done, we relaxed and took in the view bathed in golden sunlight.
I’m not much of a drinker, but the Basilmooloo was wonderfully refreshing and sweet (even F liked it! He usually pooh-poohs my “lolly drinks”). Best of all… you could hardly taste the alcohol! It is definitely “drunkable” (as Linda would put it). The Basilmooloo, for those curious, consisted of: Russian standard vodka, Grand Marnier, Chambord, cranberry, lime, strawberries and basil. I know I’m going to try and make this at my next party! Hehe.
The zucchini flowers weren’t originally part of the dishes we had in mind to order, but as soon as we heard what was in it (the dish wasn’t originally on the menu), we couldn’t resist in ordering it. We were surprised at how big the dish was – being accustomed to much smaller portioned zucchini flower dishes – but we were grateful for the size, as it was utterly delicious.
The zucchini flowers, stuffed with cheese, went so well with the fresh and bright cherry tomatoes, asparagus and capsicum puree.
We couldn’t help but “ooh” as the scallop dish arrived – it was so pretty!
I thought it was a pretty decent dish; the scallops were decently seared and went well with the slightly sweet celeriac and saffron puree, grilled zucchinis, avruga caviar and preserved lemon dressing. It was the puree that F disagreed on me with, citing that it “wasn’t his thing” and “ruined” the dish for him.
It was a bit of a pity that the dish seemed to be only skin deep and I hoped that the next dish would cheer F up.
I was a bit nervy about this terrine – I mean, it’s terrine made from a pig’s head.. with crispy pig’s ears! F told me to man up, as I’m not likely to see any eyeballs or gruesome stuff like that and that it’s just made from the meat from the head. Annoyingly, he was correct.
The terrine was a lot denser than the past terrines I’ve had – a lot more meatier and heartier – but its accompaniments managed to lighten it up. It was utterly divine when eaten on a crisp olive bread along with a bit of the salad of globe artichokes, caperberries, olives topped with spicy carrot dressing.
I am happy to report that F cheered up immensely with this dish and we both were astounded by the rest of our meal.
I adored this pasta dish; the home-made troccoli was perfectly al dente, the New Zealand king salmon was wonderfully succulent and tender, and the sweet-sour heirloom tomatoes, crunchy green asparagus, zucchini flowers and baby basil were all so super fresh. The flavours were so bright and all together packed a rather mean flavour-punch! I hardly noticed the chilli that was supposedly in this dish, except for the tell-tale reddening of my lips.
Every time I see burrata on the menu, I think just how much Minh would go gaga over it, knowing her adoration for the cheese. Seeing it now paired with her archnemesis, the risotto, I wonder if she would be tempted to try it or even *gasp* like it. The mind boggles.
I think F and I love risotto just as much as Minh hates it and for us, this is a perfect example of a very well executed risotto. The rice was cooked just right, the burrata added a delicious roundness to the sauce with the crispy eschallot providing a nice crunchy contrast to the dish. On top of that, it looked so pretty with the cheerfully yellow edible flowers. As Chef Brian would say: yumsters!
The succulent duck breast was wrapped in pancetta and was also stuffed with muscatels, spinach and walnuts. Underneath the duck was pumpkin puree, purple onions, baby parsley and apple balsalmic. A lot was going on, but somehow they all seemed to meld together quite harmoniously and was wonderfully rich in flavour.
Moving on to our meat dish, we ordered an eye fillet of Angus beef with roasted Jerusalem artichoke puree, mushrooms, bone marrow, potato nest and foie gras sauce. Sounds rich? You betcha it was. While F wallowed in its decadent richness (not literally because then that would be a waste), I struggled. Gorgeously scrumptious as it may be, I was completely overwhelmed by its decadence!
That said, the beef was perfectly seasoned and cooked to a T, retaining its juiciness and tenderness.
By the time we were ready for dessert, it got so dark for a plate of mostly dark-coloured desserts that we ended up using our table light at its brightest setting as proper light source (in hindsight, I should have done that also to the beef and duck dishes).
This dessert platter (to share) graced us with a veritable bounty: milk chocolate mousse with passionfruit caramel centre, hazelnut mocha brulee, raspberry panna cotta with white chocolate anglaise, and dark chocolate ganache with olive brick tuille and extra virgin olive oil gelato. Definitely yumsters.
It was so hard to pick a favourite, but I was quite partial to the sweet mousse and silky smooth raspberry panna cotta. The mousse was incredibly light and fluffy, which hid a dense, almost savoury passionfruit-caramel centre, while the panna cotta together with a white chocolate anglaise held a delicate balance between sweet and sour.
Otto is nestled between quite a few restaurants on this long wharf in Woolloomooloo that there is a danger in being lost amongst the hubbub. However, with its warm, friendly service (my handbag was treated to sit on a linen napkin instead of the ground!) and exceptionally fresh, beautifully presented dishes that Otto shines quite brightly as a gem of a restaurant. Without a doubt.
Area 8, 6 Cowper Wharf Rd
Woolloomooloo, NSW, 2011
Ph: (02) 9368 7488