OK. I finally uploaded the pictures from our trip to Otom. They're not all perfect, so I'm just going to link the smaller pictures here, heh. If you'd like to see them full size, the gallery is here
First impressions: the place is very modern but not obnoxiously so. The chairs we sat in were fairly comfortable; we were sitting down for almost four hours, and I never felt stiff. I liked the small, simple votives everywhere and the orange-and-honey wood color / design scheme worked nicely.
The bar had a nice cocktail menu, but unfortunately, I didn't get to peruse any of the mixed drinks. We did, however, have a really decent Cline Zinfindel that they offered by both the class and the bottle (reasonably at $38 ), so that got me off on the right foot.
As most people have stated, the service was impeccable. We were served by the general manager most of the time, who was always on top of it with water, bringing out fresh silverware and plates, taking away the finished platters, bringing out bread, etc. In fact, we were visited at the beginning and the end of the meal by Chef Nash, who was extremely polite and receptive to what we had to say. Everyone who worked there gave us a very warm reception, and I really appreciated that.
They even had special menus printed up for us that said "Welcome, LTH Forum" on them with our logo! Talk about kind of feeling celebrity-like. Which totally fit in with us seeing Robin Robinson from Fox News take up short residence behind us by the lounge to enjoy a drink.
All in all, first impressions were fantastic. Onto the food.
I felt the pacing of the meal was perfect. A lot of past posters have stated that the pacing has gone too fast; but we never seemed to have a situation where one plate was taken away while another was brought out. There was always a few minutes in-between courses, which was nice, since we had a lot of food!
We were served two courses of appetizers, two main courses and two dessert courses. With each course, they brought out 3-4 full-sized portions (plated as they are typically served) and we ate family-style. A few times, they specifically added a piece or two of something (i.e., with the pork ribs) so that everyone would be able to try at least (1) of that dish. I think it's pretty safe to say that we had enough food. When all was said and done, we had sampled 18 different dishes!
There were three or four types of bread, but I only took pictures of two. They had two different butters on display; a regular whipped butter and a honey butter, which I thought was the standout of the two.
This was the pumpernickel bread which everyone pretty much agreed was the best of the selections.
The sunflower wheat bread - I had a few of these as well. Pretty decent.
Marinated bean salad with red onion, oregano, rice noodles and caramelized shallot vinaigrette
Incidentally, this bean salad was the best appetizer we had. Lovely mixture of flavors, fresh, creamy texture - really good!
Wilted spinach salad with golden beets, smoked oyster mushrooms, red pepper & roasted garlic vinaigrette
This salad was a little too strong for my taste, and I think it was the smoked oyster mushrooms.
Beer-battered vegetables with caramelized onion & sherry vinegar aioli
House-smoked turkey cobb salad with bibb lettuce, crispy pancetta, blue cheese, hard cooked egg, avocado & grain mustard viniagrette
What really made this cobb salad for me was the avocados. Maybe because I'm obsessed with avocados and would put them on anything, I don't know. I liked this salad, though. Decent.
Chinook salmon ceviche with lime, chili, cucumber & wonton chips
Someone more knowledgeable than me made a comment that they used a fattier salmon in this than you would normally see in a salmon ceviche and because of that, it had a different flavor. Whatever it was, I was a huge fan of this appetizer. Probably my second-favorite. The salmon just melted in your mouth and the lime was not at all overpowering. A really nice dish.
Trio of miniature burgers with bacon & cheddar, mushroom & Swiss, fried quail egg & shoestring potatoes
I was kind of non-impressed by this. GAF
made a comment to the chef at the end of the meal that perhaps this didn't totally work because the mini-burgers weren't really that "juicy." He, like I did, had the quail egg one, which seemed like an interesting concept, but paired with the (we assumed, house-made) ketchup and mustard, was actually quite pedestrian. I would have actually preferred a more interesting dipping-sauce to go with it, but I love weird condiments, so...
Macaroni & cheese with creamy rosemary-white cheddar sauce, smoked carrots & parmesan-panko crust
We were all huge fans of this. Definitely one of the best entrees we had. Everything worked in this dish.
Roasted acorn squash & oyster mushrooms with seared tofu & crispy shallots
I was really pleasantly surprised by this! I've always been non-thrilled with seared-tofu dishes. However, the mixture of the squash and mushrooms and the sauce it was served in gave it a really "comfortable" feel. I don't think I've ever had a tofu dish that tasted like that. It was also commented that this dish had a really "meaty, rich" flavor, but the chef confirmed that this dish was, indeed, vegetarian.
House-smoked apricot & chili glazed pork back ribs with crisp sherry slaw & pickles
Braised beef pot pie with roasted root vegetables, veal demi-glace & puff pastry
Grilled Top Sirloin with butter-poached new potatoes, golden onion rings & veal reduction
I'll be honest with this one: I love red meat, so when I saw this, I got really excited, but upon tasting, it wasn't quite as hot or tender as I was hoping. It wasn't bad by any means, but certainly not the standout I'd hoped for. Also: the potatoes it was served with I think were undercooked, as they were a bit hard.
Beef short rib ravioli with shallot & sage goat cheese, candied sweet potato & brown butter
We all felt this was definitely one of the best dishes. It really worked, the short-rib was tender and flavorful with just the right amount of oomph. I would have probably ordered this as my entree if I'd come on my own and I think I would have been very happy with this!
Missing from my pictures: the Grilled swordfish with jicama-Anaheim relish & gooseberry soup, AND, the Braised lamb shank with white bean cassoulet, rutabega & olive oil. GAF
took pictures of these and I think he'd be able to offer a more insightful commentary on these than I would. I thought both were okay, but those who were more food-experienced than I am all felt that the swordfish was overcooked.
We did not have a menu for the desserts, so my descriptions are approximate. Please excuse any mistakes I might have made...
Banana-filled pops coated in chocolate and topped with caramel, maraschino cherry and pineapple
House-made shortcake with strawberries and creme fraiche
I really liked this. The cake it came with was simple, but really good, and who doesn't love a dessert with strawberries? I mean, c'mon.
Chocolate brownie with house-made mocha ice cream and freeze-dried marshmallows
Okay. I'll disclose. This was my favorite dessert. I love brownies, and I just loved the combination of the brownie with the mocha ice cream and fudge sauce. If I hadn't eaten so much already, I probably could have eaten this whole thing.
Baked apple cobbler topped with house-made vanilla ice cream
A lot of people liked this. I'm not personally a huge fan of baked apple desserts (personal preference), but I really liked the topping on this cobbler, and it came out quite nicely. Plus, home-made ice cream? Mmm.
Overall, we had a great experience. The atmosphere and service was fantastic. The food overall ranged from fantastic! to just okay. We definitely noted what they do well, and that is, so to speak, "Comfort food with a twist." Items like the bean salad, mac-and-cheese, pot pie, lamb shank, ravioli, all got good reviews on the food front. The traditional desserts (i.e., the apple cobbler and strawberry shortcake) seemed to be favorites among everyone as well.
Anyway, I hope this helps and would love to hear from other people that have gone and/or are going here to see how their experience is.
Thanks again to happy_stomach
for organizing this and everyone who came for being such great company! Can't wait till the next LTH outing.
ETA: I don't know why my pictures aren't showing up. If anyone could help me with this, I'd greatly appreciate it. I already checked out the FAQ, but no dice.
-- Nora --
"Great food is like great sex. The more you have the more you want." ~Gael Greene