Friday, September 30, 2022 Sep 30, 2022
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First Bite: Otto’s at The Adolphus

A modern take on Viennese verve.
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Otto’s opened in April in The Adolphus, the last cog in the machinery of the grand, re-modeled hotel. They debuted City Hall Bistro for small plates and paella, and then they unveiled the redesigned French Room, and now they have a Euro-style coffee shop with grab-and-go.

The name is an homage to Otto Schubert, the general manager of the Adolphus hotel from 1928 to 1946. The style is meant to evoke the refined, elegant Viennese coffee house, an Austro-Bavarian tradition whose pillars are coffee, newspapers, and pastry. The pastry should be artful. The reading should be worldly. The coffee should be good. The establishment should breathe a rarified air that feels cosmopolitan. It’s a place where you can be solitary and read the newspaper, but adapted to a modern, urban work-pace.

You’ll find thick chia seed pudding with coconut milk, whose topping of sour bruléed orange I found unfortunate, though I liked the crunch of pomegranate seeds. They boast a top-grade espresso machine that brews Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters coffee. (And doubles in house-made coffee-infused granola bars.) Linzer tart takes the form of individual-size round tarts, fat with raspberry jam and criss-crossed with a pastry lattice-work. Sachertorte is a vision of chocolate. Glass domes cover landscapes of brightly hued house-made pâte de fruit or amaretto cookies. (Keep in mind this is the same pastry kitchen that turns out things for the French Room.) There are apple strudel and Liège-style Belgian waffles with craggy, uneven edges, deep pockets, and a faintly crunchy, sugar-caramelized exterior. The quiche Lorraine’s edges are attractively, rustically hand-crimped.

Coffee is presented on the marble countertop, luxuriating on a wooden board, with a folded napkin and a coin-shaped cocoa butter cookie topped with a scatter of cacao nibs.

I like the fresh-pressed juice of kale, cucumber, apple that tastes very much of its deep-green wheatgrass. You might like the elderflower and rose lemonade. A man comes in for coffee and two hard-boiled, peeled Vital Farms eggs. Another for a crumpet sandwich with bacon, egg, and cheese.

The paintings are of stolid-looking white men; I wish for a few Viennese female luminaries. Still, there are magazines I want to read, sipping a cortado and looking out one bank of windows at the foot traffic on Commerce Street. And so Otto’s captures that 19th century tradition. With beautiful lines and gorgeous marble. Just fewer doilies.

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