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For new Brussels eatery Ötap, it’s all about sharing
When caterer Point Albert decided to close down its shop in the Ixelles municipality of Brussels to focus more on events, one of its cooks had a better idea for the empty space – to turn it into an eatery revolving around food sharing.
Paul-Antoine Bertin pitched the idea to his former boss and convinced him to partner up and create Ötap – the new hotspot in Brussels’ Châtelain area that has been booked out every single night since it opened in May.
Food sharing is prevalent in Asian cultures, especially in China. It was during a trip to Shanghai that Bertin, 21, found his inspiration: “When I went to eat with a few locals there, everyone ordered a different dish but the waiter brought one plate at a time,” he recalls. “So with six people we got to try six different dishes, and I really loved that.”
But food sharing is about more than just maximising the diversity of your experience. There’s also an important social aspect to it, Bertin says.
“I find it a bit sad when you go to a restaurant, quickly finish your plate and go home. Food sharing encourages you to stay longer and interact more. Some guests stay for two hours.”
Accordingly, the dishes you order at Ötap, which gets its name from a Filipino pastry on the menu, will not all be served at the same time. Bertin recommends five dishes for two people. “They’re not full-fledged meals but bigger and more complex than tapas,” he explains.
Although Ötap’s concept is heavily inspired by Chinese dining culture, the menu is not. It’s what Bertin describes as fusion, blending a multitude of different influences, from Italian to French.
The selection ranges from grilled lamb chops and open vegetable ravioli to ricotta-filled courgette flowers and deconstructed strawberry shortcake.
What’s more: there’s a first-class mixologist at work who has a penchant for cocktails that use fresh herbs and extravagant syrups, such as the Japanese shiso. While there are only five options on the menu, the Ötap bartender will happily create something from scratch tailored to your personal taste.
Bertin was inspired by a London restaurant that specialised in such cocktails. Overseas trips are not uncommon for him. The foodie tries to leave Brussels every few weeks to visit other cities and their restaurants. “In London and Copenhagen, for instance, the food scene is much more advanced – especially when it comes to interiors,” he says.
It comes as no surprise then that Ötap impresses not only with its food but also with its beautiful interior, which shows great attention for detail. And dishes are served in custom-made ceramics by local designer Marie Brisart.
Place Albert Leemans 10, Brussels