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Hefty Price Tags, Standout Funnel Cake, and Some Service Issues at Otium

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The reviews are all over the place

Otium
Otium
Wonho Frank Lee

Welcome to Good News/Bad News on Otium, chef Timothy Hollingsworth's blockbuster opening next to the Broad Museum. The restaurant has received mixed reviews from the major critics, with Jonathan Gold calling it "LA's most ambitious new restaurant" and Besha Rodell taking down the restaurant for its horrendous service. So what's the overall word?

Everyone likes the funnel cake

"I even liked the foie gras funnel cake — the notorious carnival fried-dough snack was crisp and delicious, scattered with strawberries, shaved fennel and red sorrel leaves hiding delicate, airy puffs of foie gras mousse. I'm not fond of the concept of decadence when it comes to food, but this is real end-of-empire stuff, the brunch of time's demise." [LAT]

"Certainly the food here is at times playful, an attitude best evidenced in the funnel cake topped with gobs of smooth, rich foie gras mousse and fresh strawberries, along with whispers of shaved fennel. While it doesn't quite get to the heart of what makes the food you'd find at a state fair so irresistible, the dish is imbued with the joy of both high- and lowbrow eating." [LAW]

"'Whimsical' comes to mind with this dish. You get the creamy texture of the foie gras, the sweetness from the strawberry and a nice crisp from the funnel cake. The funnel cake itself isn't greasy whatsoever.  Fun and enjoyable dish!" [Yelp]

"This was a must-get for sure, with a beautiful mix of livery and fruity flavors moderated only a smidge by the astringency of fennel, the actual pastry working flawlessly as a base to the dish." [kevinEats]

Service is...spotty

"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." [LAW]

But the lack of care I experienced for such a high-reaching restaurant is otherwise 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." [LAW]

"While efficient our waitress seemed somewhat indifferent. We didn't get the feeling that she really cared whether we enjoyed ourselves. Can't really complain about the service because we got everything we asked for; but our experience with servers at other similar establishments have been a little more attentive. A good argument for discretionary tipping." [Yelp]

This is not the place for falafel

"At a place like Otium, you might reasonably expect the falafel to surpass the stuff you're used to getting at places like the Hummus Bar & Grill or Kareem's, but it is a little stodgy here." [LAT]

"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." [LAW]

"The falafel is bulked up with eggplant, cucumber and chickpea puree, but despite enjoying each bite, I couldn't help but wonder if something had been left out." [TimeOut]

But at least the Instagramable bucatini is good

"Our favorite dish—€”and, apparently, Instagram's favorite dish, too—€”was the spinach bucatini, tangled and clinging to a savory bacon and clam cream sauce. A gently poached egg serves as the cherry on top; broken and tossed with the pasta, it makes the bucatini slip around the plate as you try to scoop up every mesmerizing bite." [TimeOut]

"Probably my favorite dish of out of all thing here. Love the creaminess of the sauce and the chewiness of the pasta. The sauce was so good that I wanted to get some bread and scrape the bottom of the plate." [Yelp]

"Our first pasta course was an easy one to enjoy, with plenty of salty, smoky, satisfying flavors at play. I will say that the pasta was quite a bit softer than I'm typically accustomed to, though I didn't find it to be too much of an issue." [kevinEats]

Be prepared to drop some major $$$$

"I wish the duck breast (all four, slender slices) had been as delightful, but they were tough and just OK—€”a shame considering the plate came with a $40 price tag. [...] Is it worth the price? I guess, like the collection of art next door, that's up for interpretation." [TimeOut]

"Take your hundos and spend it elsewhere, anywhere." [Yelp]

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