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LA Weekly's B-Rod Pulls No Punches With Harsh Otium Review

Two stars for the food, but the service is unexplainably bad.

Otium, Bunker Hill, Downtown LA
Otium, Bunker Hill, Downtown LA

This week, Besha Rodell heads downtown to review Timothy Hollingsworth's newest blockbuster opening, Otium. The LA Weekly critic has some sharp words for the restaurant that is "like a souped-up version of every trendy restaurant in town, the open kitchen turning out small plates made with esoteric and luxury ingredients in a format we've seen many times:"

Expect to wait

Is all of this magnificence enough to divert you from the fact that you've been sitting at your table for 20 minutes and no waiter has yet stopped by? [...] These things are distracting enough that you might not resent the lag in service this one time. By the third time, it's not that cute.

Dress to impress, or the service is unexplainable

But not everything is given the attention it deserves, and I get the feeling that your experience at Otium can depend massively on who you are and possibly even on how you look. There aren't that many restaurants left that have a kind of caste system, and while there will always be VIP guests at any restaurant who get treated better than the rest of us, the bad old days of wildly different kinds of hospitality and cooking, depending on how much you matter to the host or owner or chef, are gone. But the lack of care I experienced for such a high-reaching restaurant, both in service and on the plate, is otherwise unexplainable.

The steak has issues

I can't imagine, for instance, that Hollingsworth would serve to someone he knows the steak that I got. Promised medium-rare, it was cooked to a decisive well-done, apart from one lone slice that was kind of rare-ish in two spots and well-done everywhere else (I have no idea how this was accomplished). What an utter waste of what was obviously once a beautiful piece of dry-aged meat.

Order falafel elsewhere

There's a certain arrogance to the uncaring service, to the unacknowledged cooking mistakes and to the falafel dish, which consists of three modest balls over a smear of chickpea with pretty pickled condiments and costs $16 and tastes like ... falafel. Not stunningly good falafel, not bad falafel, just falafel.

B-Rod does enjoy the amberjack, foie gras funnel cake, and exceptional cocktails, but ultimately concludes, "Take it all in — the beauty, the spectacle, that intangible feel of being at the very center of a scene at its most vibrant. Then take your awesome self and go eat dinner somewhere else." Ouch.

Otium earns two stars.

Eater Video: 60 second tasting menu at Otium


222 South Hope Street, , CA 90012 (213) 935-8500 Visit Website