Story by Sharlene Park
One of the most anticipated openings of 2015, Otium has been an ambitious addition to The Broad Museum and Downtown LA’s dining scene in general. Its beautiful combination of large contemporary glass walls and rustic woodsy interior had made it a hot place for modern fusion foods done with an exquisite twist. Not to mention, the restaurant is overseen by none other than renowned chef Tim Hollingsworth. Together with the neighboring Broad Museum, Otium is an idyllic restaurant for those who wish for a special art and dining experience.
Off the Menu, an app specializing in providing insiders with secret menu items, recently threw an amazing event partnering with Otium and Echo Park’s Winsome; luckily, we got to try some of the “off the menu” plates. The monthly subscription app allows users to unlock and redeem one free secret menu item a day at some of LA’s coolest restaurants and cafes, with a portion of the proceeds feeding those in need. Though you need an invitation to start your subscription, you can ask a friend for a referral or check out their website for more information.
To kick off our off-the-menu brunch, we started with some welcome cocktails by Hennessy. I’m a lightweight, so for those who prefer stronger cocktails, let’s just say this libation did not disappoint. A mix of Hennessy VS, Green Chartreuse, cucumber and lime created a very strong, but refreshing and eccentric drink. (I didn’t get to finish mine, let alone make it half-way >.<)
For starters, we had the Burrata toast: a slice of toasted sourdough bread slathered with a good serving of burrata (they definitely didn’t skimp on the cheese) and topped with country ham, pieces of apricots, and some honey. I am a huge burrata fan, and not so much of a ham eater, but this dish definitely won me over with the freshness of the cheese.
The second appetizer was a beautiful kale salad that just exuded summer with the variety of vibrant veggies and beans. The freshness coming from the kale and cabbage was grounded by toasty and nutty flavors added by the lentils, peanuts, and garbanzos, and to tie it all in, the grapes and tomatoes added a mildly sweet and tangy flavor. One of the most tasteful salads I’ve had and I would love to come back for more.
The Off the Menu item for Otium was the “Poutine,” and let me tell you, it was amazing. It was definitely a fresh take on your typical poutine, with savory smashed fried potatoes, incredibly tender grilled octopus, pickled red onions, and a tangy, refreshing tzatziki sauce drizzled on top. It was so delicious and the ingredients elegantly balanced each other out. I hope this will become a staple menu item in the near future, as it was just that good.
The mains for the day were a pork loin dish and a grass-fed ribeye. The pork loin was paired with a sauce consisting of squash and pipian (a pumpkin seed sauce), and on the side was a foodies dream-- a perfectly fried egg for a perfect #gram (totally teasing, but kind of not). I personally preferred the rib-eye dish as it was rich in flavor from the garlic and mixed greens.
For the finale, we had a delightful and fittingly, winsome dessert from Winsome. It was so good that I ate 2...my neighbor left before the dessert came out and of course I didn’t want it to go to waste! It was a delicious (but not overly sweet) vanilla cremeux with poached apricots and topped with caramel granita and nuts. Twas ravishing and satisfied my sweet tooth.
Overall, our time spent at Otium with Off the Menu and Winsome was great. The food was amazing, the Off the Menu items definitely did not disappoint, and would love to try those dishes again in the future.