There’s nothing quite like a Friday long lunch with friends. My friend Marlo Perry was seated to my right.
To my left was our host, restaurant owner, the charming witty and always entertaining, John Fink. He’s a hoot!
I couldn’t have asked for better company.
And adding to the fabulous company, was a delicious lunch and drinks. Starting the Menu del Giorno fixed price Otto ristorante lunch with a cocktail was my kind of fun. Even better, was that the beverage was a kind of meeting point between my Italian aperitif of choice – Aperol – and the childhood nostalgia of an afternoon icecream treat - Splice.
When my friend Marlo Perry later thanked John publicly on twitter “fantastic dining with you today, @finkfilm. Love the cheap and cheerful Menu del Giorno @ottoristorante” he responded calling it a poets’ lunch. Anyway, whatever you want to call it, the lunch was simple, elegant, a cocktail and two courses, and just fifty bucks.
Early on, just as we were seated, Marlo and I both sat up straight. A little (to some) gesture grabbed our attention. With our glam bags on an outing, we were chuffed when a little Otto handbag mat was provided so that our gorgeous treasures didn’t have to touch the ground. Thoughtful! as was the polished, and correct yet sunny smiling service that shone (like the weather and the company) all throughout lunch.
We were offered two choices in the Menu del Giorno for each of the first and second courses. In the sunshine of the afternoon, and with the waterview as inspiration, I chose fish (for both).
Menu del Giorno
Aperol, vodka, passionfruit sorbet, lomeon juice and egg white
Kingfish tartare with capers, chilli, egg yolk and olive toast
Fettuccine with smoked chickencragout and spinach puree
Cone Bay barramundi, jerusalem artichoke puree, mushroom and potato
Twice cooked pork belly, caper and rainsin puree, caramelised witlof and almonds
“Mix the egg yolk in” I was reminded by my waiter. The tartare was spiked with salty goodness from a tiny dice of baby capers and olives. The creamy yolk bound the fish and other flavours beautifully. Dry crisp wafer thin olive bread completed the scene. I noticed the other first course option was however more popular with the table. So (in the eating out style that never skips a beat) I leant across to the plate next door and dug in there too. Bite right quality made on the premises pasta was thrilled with its partner – fairytale flavour that still beat the path through the not too smokey not too chicken – but as Goldilocks would say – just right – ragout.
Sticking with fish, but moving from raw to cooked – my mouth, mind and soul ascended into a heavenly space with my Cone Bay barrumundi. Chef Richard Ptacnik did this stunning Australian sustainable saltwater fish justice – it was perfectly cooked with all its natural flavour and moisture locked in. The bed of jerusalem artichoke raised the score even higher.
There was no sharing the love with the alternate second course though – so piggy me didn’t get to try the pork belly. (I needed consoling … I needed a treat …)
Chocolate was required to celebrate – Friday, and the start to the weekend.
If like us, you want to get your weekend on, Friday lunch Menu del Giorno at Otto Ristorante is the perfect kick in and cocktail way to get it started. The $50 menu is available Monday to Sunday (12 noon – 7pm) so I just might declare that every day is a suitable Otto end of the working week. Bring back lazy leisurely lunching every day, I say. (I nominate and second that!)
On another note, I was chit chatting on facebook later that night, with my girlfriend Caro in London, telling her about the lunch and she checked out the Otto website. “Thoughtful!” she wrote (too). She’d noticed there’s also a vegan menu at Otto.
Rebecca Varidel, Inside Cuisine was a delighted and privileged lunch guest of Otto Ristorante.
8/6 Cowper Wharf Rd Woolloomooloo NSW Australia
+61 2 9368 7488