Last December, Downtown’s historical neighborhood of Bunker Hill was treated with Chef Timothy Hollingsworth’s latest culinary endeavor. Constructed in the shadow of The Broad, Otium stands boldly as an expression of collaboration across an amalgam of artistic disciplines.
The space’s sophisticated yet welcoming design was crafted by the collective mastery of local artisans, creating an environment that embodies the restorative spirit of Downtown’s renovation. “This is a brand new space and a brand new building, but I wanted it to feel like it existed,” said Hollingsworth. “I wanted it to have a soul.” While partaking in a vibrant and explorative dining experience at Otium, one is left without question that its soul clearly reflects that of its creator.
Considering his level of success, it’s difficult to believe Hollingsworth never attended culinary school. After years of working construction for his father, Hollingsworth focused his work ethic on a job at a restaurant in his hometown. At first, he found no heightened interest in food. “I mean, I was a dishwasher,” said Hollingsworth. “But I liked the repetitiveness and being able to clear the whole station... it was like a game to me.”
Hollingsworth’s passion for food sparked when he landed a position at The French Laundry under renowned chef, Thomas Keller. After thirteen years, Hollingsworth developed into a notable talent in the culinary arts. During his time off work, Hollingsworth traveled to England, France, Switzerland, Mexico, Korea, and more. “I’d wake up and go to bed reading cookbooks... I’d sit at the bar at the end of the night and read cookbooks,” said Hollingsworth. “I really tried to teach myself.” Hollingsworth’s nuanced understanding of the cultural origins behind different dishes, and endless complexities of the restaurant industry provided the necessary foundation to take on projects of his own.
With rustic cooking over wood fire and sustainable ingredients grown in-house, the menu at Otium integrates Hollingsworth’s culinary influences and displays a gamut of layered, delicious dishes that draw in visitors from all backgrounds. Given the fresh hamachi with avocado and tomatoes, the delectable lobster roll with celery salt chips, or the kale and quinoa salad with feta and roasted almonds, one is rewarded with a wide variety of flavors to cover any desire of the palette. Contenders for a proper wash down can be found amidst the hefty roster of cocktails highlighted by the Fix — an ambitious combination of rye and Palo Cortado with cinnamon and huckleberry.
When Hollingsworth was approached with the opportunity to launch Otium, it became clear that he must create a restaurant that holistically provides for the needs of Downtown’s diverse community. “It’s cool, because you see people from all demographics,” said Hollingsworth with a smile. “One person comes in wearing a suit, another wearing shorts and a baseball cap. I like it. It takes away the pretentiousness some restaurants tend to have at times.”
Michael P. Flynn