So French is so hip in Melbourne at the moment. Hot on the heels of the opening of Philippe comes Oter. Occupying the basement space off Flinders lane that used to house Yu.u the restaurant is darker, moodier and (I hate to say it) sexier.
I went there with Meat-and-Three-Veg for a date night and it’s really the perfect restaurant for that sort of evening. The private dining rooms that took up most of the real estate at Yu.u have been knocked out but the space is still small with prime position up at the chef’s counter surrounding the open kitchen.
This is a French restaurant first and foremost so of course there is good bread and butter served with fresh radishes. We finished the bread so quickly that our waiter kindly asked if we wanted more.
Like everywhere these days, it’s sharing plates at Oter. The food is French but still innovative and fresh in the style of Paris’ new wave of bistros like Le Chateaubriand. We started with in season asparagus ($20) lightly charred on the sizzling hot plates in front of us and then topped with creamy burrata. A small bowl of calamari ($13) is lightly dressed so it tastes of the sea.
Flinders Island lamb ($46) is sliced thickly and cooked until it’s just pink with some sweet grilled pumpkin and greens. A sticky accompanying sauce is so good I want to just drink it straight. Luckily there’s distraction in the form of an excellent wine list with a lot of interesting French options I haven’t seen elsewhere. The Domaine Pichat Syrah ($17 a glass) is smooth and complex.
A series of cakes and flans are cleverly placed on top of the chef’s counter so that you can’t help but crave a slice for dessert. We were racing off to the theatre so managed to resist this time but I won’t be so resolute on my next visit.
Oter is the sort of restaurant that you want to take your boyfriend to make the most of the romance, your friend from overseas to show off Melbourne, or just take yourself and enjoy the theatre of the open kitchen from the chef’s counter. This is one of my favourite new openings in Melbourne this year – worth visiting for the moreish bread and butter and the waiters’ gorgeous French accents alone.
Details: Oter, 137 Flinders Lane, Melbourne (Ph 9639 7073)
Damage: Pricey. Our bill for two came to $174.