Tucked away on an empty street in East Williamsburg, flanked by an abandoned warehouse and a construction site, is a hidden gem, Otis. This restaurant and cocktail bar, which opened quietly late last year by chef Scott Hawley and his wife, Michelle Lobo-Hawley, promises to serve up “approachable neighborhood comfort food and craft cocktails without the pretense.”
The unassuming entrance opens up into an urban oasis filled with natural light and lush plant life. Guests are immediately greeted by a long, sturdy bar made of reclaimed wood accented with industrial piping. It is clear by the layout alone that the cocktail program is as thought out as the food. In the back is a smaller chef’s table facing an open kitchen and a handful of tables. Hawley explains how this setup was intentional. “The reason I like to cook is that I like to share with people. We want customers to see we’re not hiding anything; the food comes from an honest place.”
Hawley brings over twenty years of industry experience to the table. The whole kitchen is a two-man operation comprised of himself and his sous chef, Paul Terceros. The two combine their individual passion and expertise to create a small menu that focuses on technique and quality ingredients. It is the details that make the dishes stand out. Hawley tells Bushwick Daily that so far, the best seller has been the pork shoulder pasta with miso, tomato, and pesto ($18). Guests can also expect vegetable heavy appetizers, such as charred kale with spiced yogurt, candied nuts, and grapefruit ($10) or a burrata with sweet potato ($15).
Initially, Hawley and his wife Michelle wanted Otis to be primarily a cocktail bar, so a great deal of thought went into the bar program. With no professional background in bar management himself, Hawley hired Christopher Bidmead to help compile a unique cocktail menu and wine and beer list. They have found surprising success in their wine program. Hawley attributes this to what he sees as an untapped market for a good wine bar in neighborhood. They currently offer a selection of eight wines running from $9-$15 by the glass, and plan to expand upon that as the restaurant picks up popularity.
Otis is a true treasure and a very welcome addition to the neighborhood. It has flown relatively under the radar since opening. The owner is passionate about serving the neighborhood well. Return the love and check out this Bushwick newcomer ASAP!
Restaurant and cocktail bar tucked away on a quiet street off the Morgan stop.
18 Harrison Place between Bogart St and Morgan Ave.
Tues – Thursday & Sunday, 6 – 10pm
Fri & Sat 6 – 11pm