Many predict that Odette at National Gallery will receive Michelin stars, despite that it just opened for a month. But what makes a Michelin-starred restaurant? Is it a restaurant that serves just one dazzling dish and better-than-average courses? Or a restaurant that serves excellent dishes, but nothing sensational?
Julien Royer left Jaan to start Odette with the Lo and Behold Group, which is behind restaurants such as White Rabbit and Black Swan. Named after his grandmother, Odette serves modern French cuisine with Asian influences. The white-and-gray restaurant is pure class as light streams through the muslin curtains. A 6-course lunch is priced at $128++; for dinner, $206++ (6 courses) and $268++ (8 courses).
The food here belongs to the second category of restaurants: excellent food, as likeable as Ella Fitzgerald’s soft crooning over the speakers, but nothing stands out. After the meal, when we asked each other our favorite and most outstanding dishes, they are, unfortunately, the brioche, and an amuse bouche of mushroom tea sabayon (above), with crispy bits (crispy rice?). It has texture, and a complex umami sourness, creaminess and earthliness as it swirls round the tongue.
Flame-grilled Hokkaido saba, Prat-Ar-Coum oyster, Okayama grape, dashi jelly
This is not to detract the amazing effort of Royer. The food is delicious. The heirloom beetroot variation (above) is a triumph of gelatine, actual, sorbet forms of beetroot, and a creamy stracciatella (like mozzarella in strands), giving the dish alternating sweet and salty flavors. The hand-dived Scottish scallop luxuriates in Thai-influenced veloute, like a non-spicy tom yam, that complements, not overpowers, the mild sweetness of the scallop. We agreed that the breast of Organic chicken is done much better than the leg. Intensely flavorful, especially when dipped in the foie gras sauce.
But the Japanese-influenced saba with dashi jelly is fishy. Pine-smoked 55-degrees organic egg (above) is overly theatrical with dry ice, and bland for us–we requested for salt and pepper. (Maybe a drop or two dark soy sauce would give a clever nod to our Singaporean traditional breakfast.) Besides, I’m getting sick of fine-dining restaurants trying to elevate “ordinary” ingredients. The dessert, pear millefeuille, is oversimple, and seems incongruous with the direction of the 6-course meal; the dessert isn’t Royer’s strong suit.
Organic poulette a la braise, burnt Cevennes onion, celeri-sotto, sauce Albufera
If Odette is to reach for the stars, the service needs some polishing. Like the overly attached girlfriend, the lady in charge of reservations called me 4 times, texted twice, and emailed twice in total. The manager was introducing the dish, but upon seeing us taking photos, he just walked away mid-sentence. (I was listening as I was snapping photos.) We were talking when a server overheard us and laughed at our joke. We were cool with it because we like her; she is pretty, cheerful, articulate, and friendly, without being intrusive. But I wonder what would happen if she had met customers less amicable than us. The service, on the whole, is not bad, but I expected better at restaurants of this class.
Pear millefeuille, nougatine, dark rum jelly, salted caramel ice cream
If the stars are to be had, it would come from the brilliant juxtaposition of ingredients. Royer uses many ingredients in each dish, and the flavors can still complement one another immaculately; take a random spoonful from any dish on the menu, and it will still taste good. So much prowess and finesse. If Odette were a kungfu film, then Royer is Bruce Lee. If Odette were a song, he would be singing “Eye of the Tiger.”
We paid $600 for four persons.
Odette Restaurant Singapore
1 St. Andrew’s Road #01-04 Singapore 178957
T: +65 6385 0498
M-Sat, lunch & dinner
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.