Community Eat and Drink
11405 95 Street
From the bus, I called ahead to ask if I needed a reservation at Otto. It was 6:30 p.m. (they’re open at 5 p.m.-10 p.m.). This being my first time there, I wanted to make sure to get a seat. It turns out they don’t take reservations. I arrived shortly thereafter to find only one couple in a booth, very much involved with one another.
I sat myself at a table for two near the large, front, garage door-like window and was quickly greeted by an owner, of whom there are two. It was a cold night, so he suggested I move to another table further from the window, which I did. My new chair was at the 14-seat wooden table. Food and drink menus followed and the service was friendly and attentive. I sat a while before ordering so I could organize my thoughts and my homework, and to fully read over the menu. The one page hosts a variety of sausages and sides. My only suggestion – bring your reading glasses if you’ve got them. The lights continue to dim as the evening progresses, leaving you a little more relaxed but perhaps not as capable with the fine print.
I had the Otto Dog, strongly spiced (not spicy) and peppery with little bits of melted cheese inside. It comes with dijon mustard for dipping, a near-sweet dill pickle, and a generous garnish of sauerkraut. It was a classic introduction. I also had the mac ‘n’ cheese and appreciated its creamy and crunchy texture. They fry it a little first and it adds a lot. Sides are optional, so you can pick and choose. Most come in two sizes and are between $5 and $10, while dogs are $7. There are two dessert options, cake and ice cream. The almond cake was warm and not too sweet, and its flavourful sauce and real whipped cream were enriching.
If you’re new to Otto, as many still are, it’s a sausage bar. Just two blocks into Alberta Avenue territory, this location, known in a previous life as the local karaoke joint, has a warm minimalist feel to it. At 50+ seats, including booths, bar stools, and wooden school chairs, the space has been fully re-envisioned as a Dutch-inspired community-centred place to eat and drink. There are over 30 Alberta beers to choose from, including a variety on tap. The wine list is more international. And, there is press coffee and the regular assortment of other drinks.
I started to hear buzz about Otto quite early on in its formation. A friend of a friend was opening something late night near the neighbourhood, but no one was sure what it would be. This was especially exciting because the long standing “For Rent” sign had stated “no coffee shops, no bars.” It’s interesting to see what has come about, and how it will be received in the neighbourhood. I wasn’t the only first-timer as I overheard from several conversations throughout the evening. I stayed for over two hours and the place was near full, but not frenzied, when I left.
Megan lives in McCauley.