Review: Ristorante Otto (Montreal)
In Montreal for business earlier this week, I stayed at the ridiculously trendy and ultra-modern W Hotel. It's honestly like living in the Korova Milkbar from A Clockwork Orange. After a particularly long day of work, my colleagues and I decided to check out the hotel restaurant, Otto. The decor in Otto is just as sleek as in the hotel -- it's sort of a mod, nightclubby take on old-school Italian, with lots of reds, whites, and deep browns. We were led to a giant semi- circular booth with lots of plush red pillows. It was very cozy, and gave us a nice view of the rest of the dining room (which happened to be mostly empty on this Tuesday night).
The menu at Otto is essentially Italian-Asian fusion, with tempura and peanut-sauced shrimp alongside risotto and rack of lamb. Our friendly (and very young/attractive -- the norm at W) waitress pointed out the "favourites" on the menu and brought some wine while we decided what to order. I finally settled on the grilled hamachi with cherry tomato and lobster couscous, while my colleagues ordered the rack of lamb and mushroom risotto. We also ordered the tuna tartare to start, which had been highly recommended by the waitress.
The tuna tartare arrived in no time, and was presented beautifully, surrounded with a "border" of avocado slices and cilantro tabouleh. We each took a bite and agreed that it was delicious. The buttery tuna tasted amazing with the creamy avocado and subtle spice from the tabouleh. This was probably the favourite dish of the evening.
After another glass of wine and a long-ish wait, our mains arrived. My plate was extremely hot, which I took to mean that it had been sitting under the heat lamp for some time. I started with a taste of the couscous, which was mixed with huge chunks of lobster meat -- to my disappointment, the lobster was very tough and chewy (almost inedible, really) and my couscous was more clumpy than it was fluffy. However, the grains were infused with a nice savoury tomato flavour. Rather than hearts of palm, as the menu had promised, my dish was sided with some nice and crunchy, barely-cooked green veggies (mostly peas and asparagus, with some tough (undercooked) lima or fava beans thrown in). The hamachi itself was grilled with strange results: it was completely done in some parts and raw in others. Since it didn't appear to have been seared, I couldn't tell if this was done on purpose. Regardless, the fish had a nice rich flavour that went well with the garden-fresh vegetables. Overall, I was pretty underwhelmed with my meal. My colleagues didn't rave about their main dishes either.
In general, I found Otto to be a pretty average dining experience. The service is great, but the food is not worth the price, in my opinion -- it feels a lot like style over substance. I'm sure there are better options in Montreal, unless you're really in the mood for some milk-plus and a little bit of the old ultraviolence.
5 gardiens out of 10
Labels: restaurant review