Highland Park: Spanish Food and Drinks at Otono
I’ve been eagerly anticipating the opening of Otono since I heard about it at a sustainable tuna dinner last year. I enjoyed that meal as well as Chef Teresa Montano’s previous Spanish and Basque cuisine restaurant Racion. Otono opened in Highland Park, a neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles, last fall which is actually quite perfect since Otono means autumn in Spanish.
I immediately loved the look of the bar and dining room. The room is long and narrow but they make great use of the space that ends with a back “room” where all the wine is stored. The brick, warm colors and friendly vibe gives Otono a very intimate vibe.
I was excited to see three gin and tonics on the menu in true Spanish fashion. I chose the GTLA which features Future Gin. I’m quite excited by Future Gin as it’s made in LA by some of my favorite ladies in town. And it made a great GT. I’d like to try the other two on future visits. My friend had the Rioja Sour which reminds me of a New York Sour. This one was intriguing and more savory due to the oregano and tomato. Plus it’s garnished with a bay leaf so you get that on the nose.
GTLA – Future gin, citrus tonic, botanicals
Rioja Sour – bourbon, tomato, oregano, bay leaf, egg white, lemon, Tempranillo float
We saw most tables had huge things of rice or noodles so we built our meal around the seafood paella with some tapas to share. I pretty much insisted we get the olives as I love olives. We could have gotten the Marcona almonds as well but I felt we had enough protein coming.
We also got the jamon iberico and mushroom croquetas. I loved the ham! I started planning a trip to Spain in my head where all I do is eat ham, paella and drink vermouth and sherry.
I liked the mushroom croquetas but didn’t actually get that much mushroom flavor from them. We decided to get the mushroom conserva to get our ‘shroom fix.
For the big pans, you have a choice of rice or noodles. We chose rice this time but I’d probably try the noodles (fideua) next time. We made quick work of this dish. The mussels were perfect as were the juicy shrimp.
As mentioned we also added the mushrooms. I loved that the conservas are served with crusty bread.
My friend had a perry (aka pear cider). I have never seen cider in a can before. How fun!
We couldn’t leave without dessert so we got the two sweet ones on the menu. You could go full Euro and get cheese but I like to end things on a sweet note.
We had the Catalana creama and dark chocolate mousse. The creama didn’t actually taste like much. It was sort of like yogurt to me with its mildness. But it went great with the dark chocolate which was thick and almost like a chocolate bar in its density.
I’m so excited about Otono and am already plotting when I can go back!
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