In a word: Never odd or even.
Beckah ate the grilled sea scallops with a Guiness and a coffee.
JM ate the filet mignon.
Nichole ate the coriander-crusted salmon and spinach salad with an apricot and chardonnay sorbet.
Tiffany ate the spinach artichoke pasta with a White Russian.
The bill was about $100, or $25/person, plus tip.
We all gave Otto's an A- (see our grading rubric).
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Otto's is nestled in the woods just south of Mineral Point Drive, west of the University's teaching farms and Research Park. We've driven past it many times, without recognizing that a classy and slightly upscale venue with live summer music and a small, safe menu lives there.
Dinner started with a tomato bisque that had nicely chewy bits of crushed tomato in a good, herbed base. The bread and cocktails were excellent as well.
Nichole opted for the middle-of-the-road choice of a salmon spinach salad. This iteration had a good balance of flavor, with a light vinaigrette, fresh pink strawberries, barely candied walnuts, and a seasoned fish filet topped with fried shoestring onions. All in all, the menu promised more flavor than the dish delivered.
JM splurged on the filet mignon, which was delicious and a perfect pink-centered medium. Buttery, but mostly just meat-flavored the steak hit the steak spot. He shared his dilled carrots and zucchini with the table, and we found the flavor to be good and the texture to be easily chewable.
Tiffany's shrimp and artichoke pasta was delicious, with a very light and fresh dressing on penne with feta, olives, and, of course, shrimp.
Beckah went for the grilled scallops, which were a real treat. The scallops themselves were buttery, with a tart creamy sauce gracing the plate. This was her first try of asparagus (decorum did not restrain us from warning her about the possible aftereffects) and Otto's made it eminently edible. This is in keeping with the theory that one should try a new or intimidating food in the best possible restaurant, since that's where it will surely present its best face. (That's why we didn't sample the menudo at OCB a couple weeks ago.)
For dessert, we had several fine choices: fresh strawberry napoleon, chocolate truffle cake, vanilla creme brulee, white chocolate-cherry bread pudding, turtle cheesecake, and an apricot-chardonnay sorbet, along with a handful of ports. Nichole might have strongarmed the table into the sorbet, but it turned out just delightful and very refreshing. The first bite had the taste and texture of a fresh apricot (it even seemed clingy and fuzzy) followed by a whiff of wine.
Our dinner took place in a crowded back room, where we had to shout to hear each other, because most everyone else is in the coffee club set. That, and its inaccessibility to wheelchairs, took Otto's grade down a hair. Otherwise, we found it to be a good value on a nice meal; Otto's is a sweet place to take your sophisticated elders for their anniversary or birthday meal.