One can work up quite an appetite looking at art, as I discovered on my recent visit to the new Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed The Broad museum in burgeoning downtown Los Angeles. Luckily, right next door to the honeycomb-clad, contemporary art space du jour, is Otium (first picture), a delicious, design-led restaurant from chef Tim Hollingsworth (the one-time chef de cuisine at Napa Valley’s vaunted French Laundry and co-founder of LA barbecue restaurant Barrel & Ashes).
Otium opened last September and word of Hollingsworth’s wood-fired cuisine is spreading fast – meaning we had to wait a while before being seated on the atmospheric patio (second picture). The menu is rooted in classical technique, but features inventive, seasonal twists built around Hollingsworth’s travels and experiences and using fresh herbs, vegetables and edible flowers – many of which are sourced from the vertical gardens on the restaurant’s roof. For lunch we sampled the lobster rolls with celery salt chips ($13) alongside a couple of salads – Little Gem with bottarga vinaigrette ($13) as well as a flavourful kale mix with quinoa, feta and piquant currants ($14, fourth picture) – before moving on to a main of grilled fish ($22, third picture), served with an unlikely yet scrumptious combination of cauliflower, grape, almonds and cilantro. For dessert, the ice cream sundae ($9), with its decadent chocolate base, did not disappoint.
The laid-back yet elegant space – open plan in wood and stone, glass and copper, with a bustling, exposed kitchen and art-installation-like light fixtures – has a living-room vibe that encouraged us to linger; as did the people-watching.
“I wrote the menu for a diverse group of visitors,” explains Hollingsworth. “I love that we have a ton of different demographics in here at the same time, from international diners to hipsters to silver-haired guests going to the area’s concert halls. It’s always an interesting mix.”