July 26, 2016

Odette @ National Gallery Singapore ~ Our Underwhelming Experience at The 2-Michelin Stars French Restaurant

Opened in November 2015 to rave reviews, Odette is award-winning Chef Julien Royer's first foray into his own restaurant (a collaboration with The Lo & Behold Group) after his departure from Jaan.

"Exceptional!", "Best New Opening of the Year!", these are some usual comments whenever the fine-dining, contemporary French establishment at National Gallery is mentioned back then.

A few months down the road, the experience we had from our recent visit was less positive. "Over-rated", "Underwhelming", or to put it in a localized way, "Like that only lor".

Imagine our surprise when it was announced last week that Odette is awarded 2-Michelin Stars in the inaugural edition of 2016 Michelin Guide Singapore.

Same number of stars as Restaurant André? What???

Please don't get me wrong. It's not that Odette is no good. It was just not as good as we had expected.

Perhaps it was our expectations that killed the experience. Afterall it had been a highly-anticipated reservation wait of two months.

But our disappointment isn't without our reasons.

To be fair, things started off on a pleasant note.

We were greeted by the beautiful premises of Odette, softly-decked in pastel palette of beige and grey, with tasteful art installations and glimpses into the glass-enclosed kitchen compelling our attention.

It would be great if the curtains are not drawn for heavier doses of natural daylight, but the shades does provide a welcoming sense of soothing calmness.

Fine yet not stifling. Simple yet classy. Stylish and definitely elegant.

I imagined chef Julien's grandmother Odette, whom the restaurant is named after, to be as elegant too.

A meal at Odette is probably a costly everyday affair (for most people), but I would still consider it to be an affordable one for those special occasions, business luncheons or corporate events.

Weekday Lunch is at $88++ (4-course), $128++ (6-course) and $188++ (8-course), while prices goes up during the weekend at $148++ (6-course) and $208++ (8-course).

Dinner menu is priced at $208++ (6-course, Monday to Thursday only) and $268++ (8-course, Monday to Saturday).

Vegetarian options are available as well. There is no ala-carte menu.

Our choice was the 6-course Weekend Lunch ($148++) which commenced with a quartet of Canapés teasing our palates with bite-sized nuggets of deliciousness, albeit to varying degree.

An Amuse Bouche of Mushroom Tea soon followed, a most lovely concoction of cep sabayon and walnuts with mushroom broth. Each sip was warm and brimful with umami flavors.

It was also difficult to resist that Bread Assortment of Olive Focaccia, Rye Sourdough and Thyme Brioche, freshly baked and served with unsalted butter, as well as homemade lard. Good enough, but comparatively not as superb as the selection I had from Joël Robuchon.

Prior to Odette, I had visited both the 2-Michelin Stars L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon and 3-Michelin Stars Joël Robuchon Restaurant. Reviews coming up soon.

For the first course, we enjoyed the Hand-dived Scottish Scallop, a refreshing medley with dashi jelly and jalapeno ice cream, heightened by bursts of saltiness from little pearls of ikura (salmon roe).

Next up, Heirloom Beetroot Variation featuring salt-baked beetroot, creamy Stracciatella cheese with a drizzle of honeycomb alongside a host of accompanying elements including pomegranate and beetroot sorbet. I like the distinctive earthly taste of beetroot so this dish worked for me.

Chef Julien's signature dish, Rosemary Smoked Organic Egg made their entrance amid a cloud of dry ice fog, setting off our cameras into frenzy clicking mode for a nice picture lol. It's easy to taste why the dish is popular, rich velvety egg texturally contrasted with smoked potato, chorizo bites and crispy buckwheat. But something is somewhat lacking for that oomph factor. I had more delectable renditions of similar egg dishes elsewhere, so this did not wow me.

Though the meal was not particularly impressive, it was nevertheless enjoyable till this point. Unfortunately, it went downhill when mains were served.

We were all quiet as we partook in the Mediterranean Seabass. It could only mean one thing, either good or bad. Sadly it was the latter.

Going by appearance alone, the dish looked promising with charred Fremantle octopus and Cupidon tomato in a vibrant bouillabaisse broth, but was let down by the main star which is the seabass itself. It lacked moisture and was a tad fishy.

If we thought the fish was bad, the Pays de la Loire 'Guinea Fowl' fared worse with tough and dry meat. Even the well-executed accompanying asparagus, roasted porcini and truffles couldn't save the dish. Sorry to say this but the chicken breast meat from my neighborhood roasted chicken stall gives a more satisfying bite. Oh well..... let's just move on.

The Palate Cleanser of cucumber mint with lemon & basil sorbet was exceeding refreshing, but it sort of did a disfavor to the upcoming Dessert - Lemon Tart by having a similar zesty profile. There was no surprise when we got to the lemon tart.

That aside, the lemon tart itself was a exhilarating party of organic lemon curd, sable breton and basil sorbet.

We did not go for the Cheese Selection (additional supplement), and rounded up the meal with an assortment of Petit Fours.

Service wise, it was professional and efficient, but can be more tactful and refined. Perhaps I should give the servers brownie points for knowing their menu really well. They were rattling off the description of the dishes like machine guns.

If I need a reason to go back to Odette again, it would be to prove that hopefully we had visited the restaurant on a bad day, their culinary standard is above what we had experienced, and the kitchen team is capable of presenting a greater level of consistency across all the courses.

If not, this will be my swansong for Odette.

Address: 1 St Andrew Road, #01-04 National Gallery, Singapore 178957
Contact: +65 6385 0498
Website: http://www.odetterestaurant.com/home
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/odetterestaurant/
Opening Hours: Lunch 12pm-1.30pm (last seating) / Dinner 7pm-9pm (last seating) / Mon Dinner only / Tue-Sat Lunch & Dinner / Closed on Sun & PH

Prices are (1) Stated in Singapore dollars (2) Subject to 10% service charge & 7% GST (3) Correct at point of published date.

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