Otis Dining Hall, brain child of former Sage chef Damian Brabender, opened a couple of months ago. When I heard they had a mid-week chef’s tasting menu (5 courses for $70), I decided to try it out for lunch after coming back from overseas. I was greeted by the waiter who was wheeling out the small chalkboard to the side walk. As I was the first diner to arrive, I got my pick of tables and chose one next to the window. The decor inside looks familiar for those that used to dine at the previous establishment, the Belgian Beer Cafe, with dark timber panels along the wall. The partitions are now gone, opening up the entire area as one large room. The timber benches have been replaced with smaller tables and extremely comfortable leather chairs. Like really comfy.
After sitting down, I was immediately asked if I wanted a wine, tap or sparkling water, and given the chef’s tasting menu to view the dishes that would be served. I was happy to proceed with the menu and sat back to enjoy.
Course 1 – wallaby tartare with pickled vine leaf, burnt onion and macadamia floss. I liked this Australian take on the classic steak tartare with a rarely utilised native meat. The taste of wallaby was subtle and reminded me of beef without the concentrated beef flavour. The pickled vine leaf added acidity cutting through the pure meat. The proportion of all the elements combined provided a perfect balance.
Course 2 – Pan fried john dory on garden pea risotto. I just loved the smell of this risotto as it was placed in front of me. It had been cooked perfectly in a wonderful pea puree. I loved the colour on the plate! The piece of john dory was silky smooth, fresh and juicy. I love it when a simple dish is done right. I could easily order this again.
Course 3 – crispy and butter poached quail with Jerusalem artichoke. Jokingly called Kentucky Fried Quail (KFQ), I did love the crunchy fried quail skin as well as the juicy meat inside. The poached quail was soft and smooth. The artichoke was almost like a mash/puree. It was something different, very light to eat and a good accompaniment to the quail.
Course 4 – Dutton Park duck with orange and watercress. The Otis take of the duck a l’orange utilising all things orange – I believe it was a mix of orange, carrots, sweet potato and maybe more. Fantastic flavours and the colours really popped against the white plate. The duck itself I thought was slightly overdone, it could have been pinker, but it was still an enjoyable dish.
Course 5 – caramel ice cream with salted caramel, malt, chocolate and hazelnut . The caramel ice cream had been encased inside a milk chocolate shell which was actually hard to crack through. After all of the fabulous food I had just consumed, this was my favourite dish of the day. The dessert reminded me of a snickers bar – with delicious caramel ice cream, the lovely crack of milk chocolate, the nuts on top and the hazelnut and coffee crumb which gave it a new twist. I could definitely have ordered another serving just for me.
Service was excellent – it didn’t take long for the dishes to come out and the timing between each course was appropriate. Dishes were cleared away promptly and new cutlery provided, with my water being topped up if it was getting low. The chef even came out a couple of times to serve my food when the waiter was busy serving the other table. All in all, I had a great experience lunching at Otis and could easily go again for a good 5-course meal. Noms.
Otis Dining Hall can be found at 29 Jardine Street in Kingston (Green Square). I believe it’s open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner. Best to make a reservation especially if dining on the weekend.
Value for money 8/10
FPJ score 25.5/30
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