Ötap (© Saskia Vanderstichele)
With a concept based on small dishes for sharing, Ötap is attracting a big following. Despite the place’s excellent design, however, the food leaves much to be desired.
"Everything is delicious, original, meticulous, and fresh.” Comments like those are flooding social media. Ötap is an undeniable success, not least because it is such an attractive spot. Not unlike the front of the well-known Danish restaurant Noma, dark letters attached to the façade set the tone as you enter. With an umlaut on the “o”, it’s clearly marketed as “Scandinavian”, even though an “otap” is actually a biscuit from the Philippines.
We didn’t find it on the menu – go figure. The best thing about the place is the decor. It’s completely flawless, with pretty black-stained mirrors by Elise Van Thuyne, Marie Brisart ceramics, beautiful plates by Serax, high stools made of unfinished wood, and a stone counter in the centre.
Having been several times, this article being the cumulation of four visits, we have concluded that the service is of the “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” variety, charming at times, surly at others, and sometimes both at the same time. The food is equally changeable. Some dishes really lived up to expectations: the artichokes in pepper sauce served with almonds (€7.50), the courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta (€12), and the shrimp gyozas (€6.50), for example.
Others were just bewildering; the aubergine parmigiana (€7.80) had been left in the oven for too long, the marinated salmon infused with jasmine tea (€10) was severely lacking in flavour, and the monkfish served with a cuttlefish ink dashi (€14.50) lacked character. As a result, we were not convinced.
Our main impression was one of a chef who has mastered the basics but who falls flat when he attempts to be creative. Thus, the meal ended with mixed feelings, which were somewhat alleviated by the selection of wines, in particular the “vins contés” by Lemasson, the cocktails, and the excellent digestif, a sake made with yuzu.
di/ma/Tu > za/sa/Sa: 19.00 > 23.00