If The Ottomani was a drink, it would be a smoky old-fashioned. It's set like a lair from Arabian Nights, veiled behind heavy curtains, faintly illuminated with warm glass lamps and candle light, complete with chains hanging off the walls.
It's dark, it's heady. Yet there's strange familiarity in the mystique as you sink into the pillowed couch and let the hum of surrounding conversations play in the back. A déjà vu of the dream dinner, if you'd like.
Sexy is not a cheap adjective here. But before we get carried away with the exoticism that fills the air, let's focus on the food. Glorious food. It's a beautiful take on traditional Middle Eastern, brought to life with elements that are bold while cohesive.
Rock Hill is one starter that would make all vegans proud, and simultaneously stop the rest of the world from ridiculing them. You can't instantly make out what the individual ingredients are (not because of the romantic light situation). Smoked fig, cashew labneh, pomegranate… it doesn't matter. Together they meld as one.
This Aladdin-esque theme runs through the communal plates. Bite into In Marshall, the generously spiced and garnished lamb shoulder, you might just hear 'A Whole New World' ringing in your ears. Its fork-tender chew only made possible by the overnight slow roast in the restaurant's own wood-fired earth pit.
While flavour seems like the headline here, it's the texture that takes you by a delightful surprise. It's always a marvel when cooked fish, Tiberias snapper in this case, can be described as supple. It's my description but still.
The four accompanying sides also stand strong on their own, and it's hard to pick a favourite (the Local Squash. No, wait the Charred Corn. Or maybe the Heirloom Tomatoes). The greatest surprise though, would be the fact that a large portion of the recipes are sourced locally from the famous Quan Fa Organic Farm.
The last difficult decision to make is the choice between the two desserts. We'll make it simple: Adventurous? Try The Accident, based on the popular Ayva Tatlisi, for a foreign adventure. Classic lovers will be happy with the Dark Forest, where the balance of sweet and tart is close to perfect.
The Ottomani is located at 48 Peck Seah Street, Singapore 079317.