Establishing his place in Kuwait’s culinary scene with the success of Street at Almakan, Chef Faisal Al Nashmi has done it again with Table Otto.
Working alongside his creative partners at Almakan for almost two years to bring the concept to life, Faisal switches up the game completely at Table Otto, allowing his experimental side to truly flourish with exceptional dishes. With simplicity at the core of the concept, expect an incredible attention to detail, and a beautiful melting pot of Italian and French delicacies with American roots. Hence begins the story of a New York-inspired brasserie, envisioned and realized right here in Kuwait.
Located in Al Shaheed Park, Table Otto offers diners in Kuwait an elevated dining experience that is inspired by the nature that surrounds it. To be exact, Table Otto is located in an area of the park that is currently experimental, with various plants making the park their new home. Table Otto’s menu emulates this adaptive ethos, and it comes alive with new techniques and practices. Expect to see Sous-Vide tenderloin and coffee-infused garlic butter amongst the select culinary creations on offer. Faisal speaks about his vision for Table Otto with such fervor, that I couldn’t help but listen, “This space really spoke to me and my partners. When I first saw this part of the park, I was in awe, as it reminded me of NYC’s MOMA. More importantly, we now feel that the concept and its menu fit its surrounding habitat, and upon completing work on this location, we know that Table Otto is finally home.” The name, which translates to ‘table of eight’ from Italian, pays homage to the concept’s Italian roots. Each side of the Otto table carries with it a meaning: Restaurant, art (alluding to Almakan’s artistic soul), garden (the space is located in the heart of nature), artisanal high quality coffee, culture (reviving the cultural aspect of food elements, soul, events etc.), laboratory (being located in an original plant lab, Faisal also considers this location as a food lab with natural experimentations), elevate (the widely-designed stairs leading to the sky is thought as an elevation of thought, serenity, and hope) and bakery (showcasing a deep focus on providing artisanal technicalities of modern vs traditional baking).
The design of Table Otto alone should elicit a visit. The first thing I noticed was the colors of the commanding mural done by Italian artist BASIK that line an entire wall at the restaurant. Then, a medley of gorgeous marble slabs and mahogany form panels and table tops, with accents in black, white, copper tones and teal decorating the space. From porcelain planters, Kilim rugs, to bowls of fresh fruit that beckon you to come inside, my eyes were pleased, and my mind was instantly intrigued.
The Otto experience began with an offering of freshly baked sourdough bread, alongside a plateful of perfect rounds of garlic, coffee-infused butter seasoned with fresh sea salt. While this was only the start of my meal, it was a refreshingly different one. I sampled this butter concoction, and let the flavors do all the talking. The butter tasted extra rich, perhaps due to the coffee, the garlic gave it a twist in the best of ways, and the salt simply made it all come together.
Upon examining the menu, the bazaar team and I immediately noticed the Burrata + Bresaola Salad, Raclette Garlic Bread, NY Fried Quail and of course, the NY style Sourdough Pizza. Deciding on sharing these dishes, we sipped on cleverly thought-out drinks such as the Sour Lychee, with palm water, pineapple and togarashi while our food was being prepared. As soon as these dishes arrived, the presentation alone blew us away.
Expertly deboned, we admire and commend the skill it took to prepare the deep fried quail. I was initially worried that frying the quail would dry it out, but the batter was beautiful and the meat itself, so tender. As for the combination of both burrata and bresaola in a salad, I totally assure you that it’s a match made in heaven, especially with the employment of sliced beets, green chili chimichurri, pistachio powder, za’atar, and a sneaky espresso vinaigrette (you know that Faisal loves his coffee). I think what I loved most about this dish is that every ingredient is there for a reason, whether it is to achieve a balance in flavors, or to provide the diner with an appetizing texture. When it came to Otto’s true test, the sourdough NY style pizza, the crust did not disappoint, and the quality of the simple yet flavorful pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, freshly prepared pomodoro tomato sauce and chili oil dominate and shine through.
I knew I couldn’t leave Table Otto without sampling a certain dish on the menu that jumped at me—the Sous-Vide Tenderloin. Employing more than one cooking method, I felt that Faisal really honors nature, and the fine ingredients used at Table Otto, with this specific dish. Firstly preparing the beef in a vacuum-sealed bag and placing it in a water bath or combi oven at a certain temperature, it is then seared off and cooked to perfection a la sous-vide. Served alongside the creamiest cheesy Aligot potato, hazelnut and Parmesan, this dish will truly delight your senses. If it’s burgers that you’re after, then I highly recommend the garlic-cheese stuffed Chicken Kiev Burger, fried to golden perfection and finished with pickled Jalapeno, wholegrain honey mustard, dill and a crunchy slaw.
The dessert offerings at Table Otto tickled our fancies, and while we didn’t order everything off of the menu, we allowed Faisal to regale us some more with his inspiration behind the hazelnut Mille-Feuille, and that the idea for Otto’s came to him after the original delicacy in Paris. Prepared with salted caramel, hazelnut-infused pastry cream and mixed berries to balance out the sweetness of the cream, every bite of the expertly prepared mille-feuille pastry made our taste buds sing with joy.
By the time our visit ended, the dinner service was due to promptly begin, and upon exiting, we noticed the impressive line of hungry diners quickly forming outside the restaurant. Stomachs and souls truly satiated, we left Table Otto with an honestly memorable dining experience that we can’t wait to repeat.
Photography by Yousef Al Nasser.