While the boys were away at their grandparents’ for a few days over half term, hubby and I took the opportunity for a hard-earned night out. A little bit of research on somewhere new to eat brought us to Otto’s Restaurant on Sharrow Vale Road, followed by a Last Laugh Comedy night just across the road at the Lescar. We had a fantastic night out and have promised ourselves to do it again soon. Laughter is good for the soul!
And the meal wasn’t half bad, either. Otto’s is a fairly old fashioned looking place with a hint of Morocco in the form of some ethnic light fittings, but with a warm and friendly welcome. The food is Moroccan and Mediterranean and their website says they are happy to cater for gluten free, nut free, dairy/lactose free, vegan and allergies.
When we arrived, I was pleased to see vegetarian and gluten free dishes marked on the chalk board, but even happier to be presented with a gluten free menu. (It also had marked on vege and vegan food. There were limited main course options for these on the GF menu, but I’m not sure about the main menu.) There was plenty to choose from for omnivorous coeliacs, with spicy lamb meatballs, Moroccan soup and Felafels amongst the starters.
I chose Zaalouk, which was a warm spiced Moroccan ratatouille, made with aubergine, peppers, courgette and flavoured with cumin and coriander. It was really rather lovely. It arrived with a side of home made gluten free bread – how fantastic! The owner (Otto?) apologised in advance about the crumbly nature of the bread, and I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the best, but I appreciated it so much more than the usual piece of sliced white, purely because they’d gone to the effort to make it.
Main courses in the GF menu were lamb and fish tagines, seabass, steak and risotto, with some others on the specials board. I opted for a fish tagine, which had a generous portion of fish, cooked in a delicious sauce, with coriander, olives and preserved lemon. Hubby had the lamb tagine, which also went down well. Unusually, this was made with lamb shank, but we overheard the owner tell somebody else that he would make it with shoulder if they gave him some notice. Nice customer service!
We were given accompaniments of bread, vegetable rice instead of couscous, and some extra vegetables – not that we needed them – and a bit of harissa paste for a bit more spice!
Onto dessert… Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stay for pudding, as the comedy night was about to start, and everybody knows you don’t want to walk in to a stand up comedian already in full flow. So we’ll have to save that pleasure for next time. However, the GF menu contained some rather interesting offerings, which I would have really enjoyed trying: chocolate and almond mousse with creme anglaise, flourless chocolate and almond cake, as well as passion fruit and strawberry sorbet.
We’ll definitely go back, and allow a bit more time for pudding.
The headlining comedian at the Last Laugh was Kai Humphries, a hilarious Geordie, who made us chuckle with tales of growing up ginger and life post-girlfriend. Keep a lookout for him – I think he’s on the way up…
Otto’s Restaurant, 344 Sharrow Vale Road, S11 8ZP