Otway opened in Clinton Hill five years, and it has always been about the community with intimate dinners offering creative food. But COVID-19 prompted changes — including a focus on pastries.
Honestly, pastry has kept us going,” owner Samantha Safer said. “Sugar, flour, and milk is just endless here.”
And they line up for these baked goods, from savory buns to donuts filled with passion fruit.
“Now it’s up to 200, 300 pastries in a day, and it’s just myself doing all the pastry prep,” Safer said. “So it’s definitely escalated and amplified in a great way, a wonderful way.”
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It’s a silver lining during the ongoing pandemic. Safer has a smaller staff now to allow for social distancing, but that also means everyone is pulling more weight.
There’s also more emphasis on all-day dining, with options like a wedge salad or egg sandwich. There’s home cured lox, and chicken liver mousse under apple slices.
“Pre-pandemic, we were dinner five nights a week, slightly high end,” Safer said. “And we’ve basically gone from that to window service, masks on, it feels very distant compared to what it used to be.”
But her customers remain loyal.
“Quite frankly, it’s the energy of Sam and her staff,” one patron said. “They stayed open and served some of the best pastries and coffee you could find in the area.”
Safer plans to add a roof to her outdoor space, with the hopes of keeping outdoor dining viable in the winter.
“We’ve spent so many happy times in here as a family,” another diner said. “We’ve had events here…it’s such an extension of our home almost.”
As for the restaurant’s name, it’s even more meaningful now.
“Otway is a really beautiful coastal town in Australia where my husband is from,” Safer said. “It also means to be triumphant in battle, which is kind of perfect for this moment.”
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Otway is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch, but dinner is now served only on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays.
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