Otium, the hotly anticipated restaurant next to The Broad Museum from former French Laundry luminary Timothy Hollingsworth and Sprout Restaurant Group, cuts a striking figure on Bunker Hill. The building rises from the end of a lawn, with a warm weather patio, sleek wood, a mural of fish on the south facade, and of course an open kitchen. The concept is not clear from looking at the menu, though the blanket statement could be described as California eclectic. Hollingsworth makes pastas in-house, but also utilizes a donabe to cook fancy French toast, and folds Middle Eastern flavors into other dishes. My first meal at Otium was a global grab bag, some dishes better than others, with Mussels ($18) being the biggest hit.
Mussels are impeccably cooked, supple and almost creamy, without a single chewy shellfish in the bunch. The shells luriated in a green curry broth that was fairly spicy, and thankfully not sweet with coconut milk. The intoxicating broth also incorporated crusty dime-cuts of Chinese sausage, Fresno chilies, herbs like basil and cilantro, and tender curry soaked vegetables like eggplants and mushrooms. Otium might be difficult to define, but if more dishes achieve the heights that Mussels do, I can see returning to the restaurant pretty frequently.