Friday, June 27, 2008


I promised more on Otom... and at last, here it is.

Otom was an interesting experience. I think it would be that way with or without kids, but going with The Boy, The Girl, and The Tot added an element of speed-eating to the experience. I really liked the space -- it had something like 14' ceilings and despite its long, narrow dining dimensions, the effect was airy and light. There were floor-to-ceiling curtains dividing the space into 3 sections - a small dining and lounge section, another one for the bar and bar seating, and a third dining section. We sat in the back dining section, which was mercifully filled with families with small children when we arrived for our 5:15 reservation.

Like its parent and next-door neighbor, Moto, the premise of Otom is to de-construct American dishes and reconstruct them in a new way. Moto specializes in true "foodie" food, but Otom reconstructs "comfort food." I would never think to isolate the flavors within blueberry pie a la mode, for example, and recreate it within another dish. It's basically what I do in my work, but with food. Intellectually, I think it's a pretty cool concept. But while I respect the art behind the work, I'm not sure that I am enough of a foodie to enjoy the end result.

Otom offered a 3-course prix-fixe menu for KRW, but the selection was extremely limited. There was basically 1 adult menu (salad and pork belly) and 1 kid menu (mac & cheese and corn dogs & fries). I liked the salad, wasn't fond of the pork belly (it came in a little square, with "beans" that were actually ground pork and another square of smoked bread). The pepperoni pizza mac & cheese was good, but I thought it needed salt. The fries were teeny, tiny shoestring potatoes and the kids thought they were fun. The corn dogs were good. I also ordered one of the 3 "mocktails" on the menu: the rhubarb "gimlet," a mix of lime juice, crushed raspberries, rhubarb, and pomegranate juice. Everyone liked that.

Service was extremely attentive and everyone from the bread guy to the waitress was accommodating of the little-kid crowd (and their parents -- I must have dropped my fork through the slat on the side of my chair 4 or 5 times). The bread guy offered us slices of bread whenever we ran out, and they quickly replaced the little ramekins of sweet-herbed butter whenever we ran out of those, too. The Tot ate the butter straight-up, and The Girl very kindly spread butter on slices of bread for me (on her own initiative).

Dessert was kind of odd. It was called milk & cookies, but it wasn't. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't what I was expecting: a flat, hard crepe (like a pizzelle, but flat) with baked chocolate-dough dots on it. The Tot was quite confused as to why these things didn't peel off or taste like chocolate chips. The crepe was accompanied by a scoop of ice cream, a dollop of mascarpone, and a few banana slices drenched in caramel.

Our meal total came to $43.19 with my mocktail and 2 Sprites. I left a $20 tip, which probably is not much when you consider that everything would probably have been $100 outside of KRW. As we were leaving, there were 3 or 4 metrosexual business guys at the front, looking doubtfully at the crowd -- they obviously didn't realize it was KRW when they made the reservation.

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