The Best Old School French Restaurant in London: Otto’s

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It takes a lot for a meal to sweep me off my feet and I have encountered a rare few of these moments (mainly in Sicily, Italy). London was the last place where I expected this to happen. In comes Otto’s, in my opinion the best old school French Restaurant in all of London. What started off as an old school French menu that peaked my interest turned into what Pat calls “The best meal and service I have ever had in my life,” or as the French would say, “La crème de la crème.”

Photography property of SVADORE

Hidden on Gray’s Inn Road, just a couple of minutes from the heart of London is Otto’s, a traditional old school French Restaurant. Step in and it is clear that you are not in a French nouveau restaurant. Envision whitewashed walls, art nouveau lamps, kitsch old European vibes, various ceramic busts, and rich red drapery.

As we sit down we are handed menus. When planning our 3-day London travel itinerary, I knew that the first dinner was going to set the tone for the rest of the trip. Forget the nouveau French menus, what drew me to the restaurant were Otto’s traditional dishes made with fresh ingredients.

The owner of the restaurant, Austrian-born Otto Albert Tepassé, stopped by our table to introduce himself. The man was gregarious, passionate, and interested in our own personal stories as he began to tell us his own story and background. Otto has worked at the famous Tour d’Argent restaurant in Paris, where the specialty of the menu is pressed duck. After a pleasant banter, Otto offered us a complementary Bellini as an appetizer before we started our meal. Otto’s was off to a great start in our book!

Pat and I had settled on just a single appetizer to split until Otto came along and recommended otherwise. Otto directed us away from getting a single Smoked Salmon starter and recommended Pat try the French boudin noir, or black blood pudding, instead. Without hesitation, Pat said “Why not!” We had no idea what he had just ordered and we were in for a big surprise.

APPETIZER: FOIE GRAS DE CANARD SPREAD

Long regarded as the ultimate culinary luxury, foie gras de canard is the liver of specially fattened duck. The satiny-smooth foie gras de canard spread was served with warm slices of crusty bread. Pat and I devoured it before our appetizers even came out. It’s rare that we are able to taste such a French fine cuisine since it is not cheap to come by and it paired great with the Bellini!

ENTREE: SCOTTISH SMOKED SALMON, HAND  CARVED AT THE TABLE, TRADITIONAL GARNISH 

I started with thinly sliced pieces of hand carved smoked salmon to refresh the palate. The Scottish smoked salmon was brought to our table and hand carved into thin slices right before our eyes providing much theater. Now that is what I call high class. The waiter then came over and offered me a variety of seasonings to drizzle on top of the salmon. I went with my go-to’s – some simple parsley and lemon. Scottish salmon is deemed to be the king of all salmons and the naturally pink color and smell of mine reiterated this point. Soft and velvety, not watery and not too salty, this is definitely a meal for any and all smoked salmon connoisseurs.

ENTREE: FRENCH SOFT BLACK PUDDING, CARAMELIZED APPLE, MADEIRA SAUCE 

Pat was leaning towards the salmon as well but thanks to ottos recommendation, had the Boudin Noir instead. We had never heard of black pudding and had no idea what to expect. For those of you who like us are clueless about black pudding, it is a rich pork sausage made of pigs blood flavored with spices and packed with a healthy dose of iron to ward off the winter blues. Paired with sweet apples and Madeira sauce, a French brown sauce prepared with Madeira wine and peppercorns, the incredibly soft pork melted in Pat’s mouth as his eyes flew wide open at his first bite—“AMAZING.” Blood pudding didn’t really seem appealing to me (after all…it’s boiled pig blood!), but given Pat’s reaction I decided to give it a try—likewise, “AMAZING.” It is a must for this time of year in England. The rich sweetness of the Madeira wine blends well with the meat, which is a typical addition to English food. The level of detail in this traditional dish made it the unexpected star of Pat’s meal.

MAIN COURSE: ROAST MILK-FED PYRENEAN LAMB, DAUPHINOISE POTATO, ROSEMARY JUICE 

For the main course we both opted for the Pyrenean milk-fed lamb with Dauphinoise potatoes and rosemary juice. The lamb was incredibly tender to the point where it would melt in your mouth. It was rich with a beautiful, gentle, detectable earthy flavor carried by the rosemary juice. The Dauphinoise potatoes were thinly sliced and catered to our creamy indulgence. Absolument magnifique!

QUICK TIP: Otto’s is notorious for his pressed duck or Canard à la Presse. Otto practiced this renowned and fine cuisine at the Tour d’Argent restaurant in Paris and has now brought it to London. Unfortunately, you had to order it in advance so that he could go get it fresh for you that day, so we were not able to order it that night. He orders his ducks from the very same place Tour d’Argent does, where each duck is given a special number and a diner certificate to signify its quality of excellence. I highly recommend you give it a try! The theatre behind the preparation is unbelievable. Imagine being presented with a plucked duck on a silver platter before it is made and pressed for you before your eyes. You are even invited to press it yourself!

DIGESTIVO: CARMES DE RIEUSSEC, SAUTERNES, BORDEAUX, FRANCE 

We typically top off our luxurious and rich meals with a Port Wine to cleanse the palate, but at Otto’s we were offered a complementary Carmes de Rieussec, Sauternes wine from Bordeaux instead. Even better! For those of you who do not know, Sauternes are the king of dessert wines. It is a sweet wine that is super concentrated in flavor. Our Sauternes wine had a myriad of bright flavors including sweet honeyed apricots, candied citrus peel, pineapple and guava. It was exactly what we needed.

DESSERT: CHERRY MOUSSE IN A BRANDY SNAP TUILE 

Pat and I were full so declined dessert (we were also trying to not spend to much money to be quite honest!). Yet to our amazement, once again Otto’s surprised us with a complementary Cherry Mousse dessert served in a brandy snap tuile to accompany our Sauternes. This was the cherry on top of our already amazing evening (no pun intended)! This rich, frothy and devilishly good dessert was (what we thought) the perfect ending to a mouth-watering meal.

DESSERT: HOMEMADE DARK CHOCOLATE

Right when we thought we were done, one of Otto’s waiters runs out with a tray full of homemade chocolates in the shape of seashells. Pat and I shook our heads, “Oh my goodness, more! We are so full!” But the waiter insisted, “Please, please, have one or two, they were just freshly made by our men in the kitchen and put in the fridge to cool.” Let’s be honest, Pat and I were not going to refuse. We are never one to refuse EXCELLENT and free food, let alone dessert! So we placed a couple onto our plates and thanked the waiter. Never in my life had I tasted homemade chocolates that had been put in the fridge or freezer to cool. The cool taste of dark chocolate was refreshing to our senses. Once again, un-be-lievable.

The food was excellent, both beautifully cooked and well presented, and the service was impeccable. Otto offered interesting conversations, pushed our limits and directed us to explore different tastes, and his staff was quick, courteous and knowledgeable. Otto’s may not be the modern, French nouveau cuisine that is trending now a days, but it is, in a way, competition for those places. It offers a stage and an audience for an Austrian Chef’s talent to revive old school French cuisine. It defies their notion that the best stage for a chef’s talent is the most expensive one and offers an intimate, theatrical one-of-a-kind experience unlike any other. Needless to say, Pat and I will be stopping by Otto’s every single time we are back in London!

QUICK TIP: In order to get a table at Otto’s you MUST reserve a couple of days in advance. Otto’s is an extremely intimate and curated experience to the point where if you book a table for dinner or lunch, you will be the only person at that table for the entire night or afternoon. The table is only for you. They do not want to rush people out of their restaurant and prefer to create a unique experience for every person who walks in. So do not expect a quick 40-minute dinner or lunch, but rather a long and interesting 2+ hour meal.

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25 Replies to “The Best Old School French Restaurant in London: Otto’s”

  1. […] When in London, you are never really sure what to eat. London, like New York, isn’t exactly renowned for their own personal cuisine (aside from maybe fish and chips and scones!). What they are known for though is the many Chef’s from all parts of the world that come to showcase their worldly cuisine. While rummaging through Google for reasonably priced places to eat while in London I came across Otto’s Restaurant. It’s pretty central (it’s in Saint Pancras), has classic French dishes, the prices are reasonable and stay below £30 per main dish, and the atmosphere is quaint and intimate. We went in not expecting much and left with our mouths wide-open. To repeat Pat’s words “This is by far the best meal I have ever had…in my life.” It is a must to add to everyone’s London itinerary. If you want to know more about what a night at Otto’s is all about, you can read about our sensational experience in The Best Old School French Restaurant in London: Otto’s. […]

  2. So well written and your pictures are beautiful! Great post!

  3. That looks like a wonderful experience, very beautiful pictures 🙂

  4. This meal sounds like an amazing experience! I love trying new foods. However, the blood pudding PR rep should coin a new name for the dish!!

  5. I am headed to London next March, I think I need to read some more of your posts about London. I need all the tips and tricks I can get!

    1. That’s awesome! It has to be one of my favorite places in the world, you’ll love it 🙂 If you want to stay up to date on what to do, see, and where to eat in London. Feel free to subscribe to my enewsletter on the right hand side and follow my social handles!

  6. Wow, looks fantastic! You can easily see how much pride the owner takes in what he is doing. I think his passion makes the place amazing.

  7. Neverrrrr heard of soft black pudding till now! Lol. Looked like a swanky and fun experience!

  8. Everything looks so delicious! That lamb looks like heaven on a plate, and I could eat the dark chocolate every day. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  9. That’s so amaizng!

  10. This restaurant sounds well worth the time and preparation. I first tried blood sausage or morcilla in Argentina, and am irrevocably hooked on it. I would love to try it at ottos

  11. farandawayplaces says: Reply

    OMG! Looks awesome, I’m such a foodie would love to visit this place!

  12. Well written, with great shots 👏🏾👏🏾

  13. This sounds like a lovely dining experience.

  14. The food looks beautiful. I surely fell for the lamb and the homemade dark chocolate.

  15. That black pudding sounds awesome! Definitely sounds like a must visit place if we’re ever in the area.

  16. Great post on this restaurant! I loved reading the detailed review and the pictures that go along with your post as well. You’ve got s great blog. I’m a travel and lifestyle writer as well and I love checking out quality posts on other blogs. Yours is definitely thorough and well written.

    1. Thank you Sarah, I appreciate it 🙂

  17. I am not sure I would have been as brave and actually tasted the pigs blood sausage. I do love restaurants that make it an experience and this sounds spectacular.

  18. What a great post you made here. thanks for sharing and i am going to bookmark this now

  19. Looks like an incredible restaurant, although all the food looks great the cherry mouse in Brandy snap really got my attention. I would love to taste that, I can imagine the flavors just exploding in your mouth

  20. I love going to restaurants that have a history involved. It just makes me feel like I am truly hardboring the experience!

  21. Prosecco and Projects says: Reply

    This looks amazing! Hopefully i will get to visit someday!

  22. My husband is taking me to London soon, and since he is French, he will love this list of amazing restaurants we can visit! Thank you!

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