French technique and a healthy dose of imagination at Melbourne’s new restaurant, Oter.

Apparently, the name Ôter means something like “take off” in French, which is a good way of introducing the food of Florent Gerardin, a Frenchman doing good things with classical technique and a liberal dose of imagination. He does a very fine farmhouse terrine of pork and black garlic, for example, served with a sweet, soft brioche roll and orange mustard. It combines a bit of nostril-rattling heat with a bold whack of citrus sweetness that really shouldn’t work but does. The Wagyu ribs off the yakitori grill – left over from Japanese predecessor Yu-u – are all meaty, chewy grunt, sprinkled with Espelette pepper. While the fillet of John Dory (“le Saint Pierre”, the menu calls it in its winning French way) peels away in pearlescent flakes and is topped with a glossy, gently astringent sauce peppered with white mustard seeds. There are many strings to Ôter’s bow: an all-star cast including, co-owners (wine guy) Tom Hunter and Kate and Mykal Bartholomew (Coda, Tonka); a drinks list that wraps itself sinuously around the French theme; and a room that sums up Melbourne style by looking like it’s been here for 20 years instead of one month. Style, meet substance.

This venue is now permanently closed.

Restaurant Review - Oter, Melbourne

Location: 137 Flinders Lane, Melbourne; (03) 9639 7073;
Cuisine: French
Atmosphere: Convivial, wine soaked and adventurous. 
Seats: 55
Open: Open Tuesday-Friday for lunch and Tuesday-Saturday for dinner
Big tick: The appetite-boosting mise en place. Just try resisting the tarts and cheeses set out on wooden boards at the kitchen pass.
Must try: Those beautiful shortcrust pastry tarts – as delicious as they look.

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