Edmonton·Food review

Small but mighty Otto: Edmonton's new sausage and beer emporium

If sausage and beer are your thing, you might want to head to Otto, a new restaurant in Norwood where you can eat and drink well for under $25.

Links and lagers make for the perfect pairing at this new Edmonton eatery

Otto opened in Edmonton's Norwood neighbourhood in December. (Otto )

If sausage and beer are your thing, you might want to head to Otto, a new restaurant by former Culina partner Ed Donszelmann.

Those who live in Norwood can walk to the neighbourhood eatery at 11405 95 St.; the rest of us will need to drive, bike or take the bus — which, conveniently, stops right outside the door.
The spicy sausage and cold beer at the newly opened Otto hit the spot for Edmonton AM food critic Twyla Campbell. (Twyla Campbell )

Bike, bus or boots might be your best method of transport because Otto features one of the smartest beer lists in the city with 95 per cent of the craft brews Alberta-made. And the list is very tempting.

Ales make up the bulk of the offerings, with three resulting from collaborative efforts between breweries from Alberta and British Columbia.

Lagers, pilsners and IPAs round out the list of standards and for those venturing into the intriguing realm of saison, fruit, and sour beers, Otto offers a half dozen from which to choose. 

'Hot and juicy'

Donszelmann says his initial intent was to open a place that focused on the drink more than the food, but the sausages here are made by Steve Furgiuele of Fuge Fine Meat, so it's impossible to not focus on the food.

Furgiuele makes a fine sausage, tweaking and fine-tuning a recipe before he'll release his links to the masses.

The current menu takes you on a world wiener tour: from North Africa, a lamb or beef merguez; an Italian fennel; a French andouille; two from Germany — a beef bratwurst and a currywurst; a version of Mexico's chorizo verde; and finally, the Otto Dog: a Fuge original, stuffed with smoked gouda and created to pay homage to Donszelmann's Dutch heritage.

The presence of fennel and hint of Calabrese chili flakes had the Italian sausage vying for top spot, but in the end, the Otto Dog reigned supreme.

Out of the total inventory, it most closely resembles what North Americans might think of as a ball game smokie: hot and juicy with cheese oozing everywhere.

Tip: ask for a side of the hopped honey mustard, an Original Redhead condiment.

The chorizo verde will appeal to those who love some Latin influence in their links: cilantro, tomatillos and smoked peppers make up the flavour profile — a beautiful combination, but one that fights with the sauerkraut and pickle that appears on every plate.

'Refreshingly unpretentious'

The merguez, too, has a similar issue with the accompaniments, but it's a petty complaint, as the sauerkraut and pickle act more as a garnish if you dig in to any of the available side dishes: a saucy macaroni and cheese; coleslaw, house or potato salad; roasted sunchokes served with a fermented tomato salsa; and sizzling hot, salty fries tossed in butter, parsley and garlic.  

While Furgiuele is the sole sausage supplier, Thomas Spacinsky, a Culina alumnus, capably mans the kitchen. He also bakes a mean almond cake, which is not to be missed.

Food and prices are refreshingly unpretentious. All sausages can be had for $7, or $9 should you choose to have an accompanying bun.

Wine drinkers are not forgotten; a small but smart list is available with all bottles priced at a very reasonable $35, and a six-ounce glass for $8.

There are few places in the city where you can eat and drink well for under $25. Otto is an exception.  

You can hear Campbell's reviews on Edmonton AM every second Friday. You can also see more of her reviews on her blog, Weird Wild and Wonderful, and can follow her on Twitter at @wanderwoman10.