Otto is great, undoubtedly, but the first I dined there in 2007, I did feel like an income-bracket tourist. It's a restaurant known for its ritzy celebrity clientele, after all, and my salary has zero ritz attached. My poker face got good practice when I saw the orange juice cost $8. It was a damn fine fresh-squeezed OJ, though, full of high-brace citrus and sweetness. The meal was course-by-course brilliance, but as much as I loved it, it just wasn't the kind of place I could afford to go to regularly.
This is what makes The Larder so excellent – it's Otto for the everyday. In fact, at the pop-up, my entire dinner (including dessert and a drink) cost the same as the main course I last had at Otto. Not only is The Larder wallet-appeasing, the food is damn good. The Pearl Barley Risotto ($15) is wonderfully light and spring-loaded with corn, mushroom and pea flavours. The Potato Rosti ($15) is a delicious, pan-crisp base camp for the roasted capsicum, feta, rocket and addictively smoky eggplant that sits on top. Will's Pork Belly ($25) was equal parts tender and juicy and well supported by a light, honey-dressed salad of brussel sprouts, walnuts and radicchio. These are the sorts of great things you can expect from the kitchen of Otto head chef, Richard Ptacnik.
Adding to the budget-friendly nature of The Larder is the fact you can BYO. If you don't get a chance to detour to a bottle shop beforehand, though, you can pick a drink from Otto's lengthy list or enjoy one of the specials (such as a winter-compatible glass of mulled wine).
So check out The Larder while it's around – you don't even need to practice your poker face. It's hard to undo the smile you get from enjoying such excellent, reasonably priced food.
The Larder pop-up, Monday-Friday, 6-10pm, Otto Ristorante, Area 8, 6 Cowper Wharf Rd, Woolloomooloo NSW (02) 9368 7488, www.ottoristorante.com.au/#/ciao/the-larder