Chef Julien Royer is bent over the kitchen counter, staring intently at his creation to ensure the dish meets his exacting standards. Moments later, he’s out in the dining hall, serving our table of three our latest course. A quick chat to find out about our experience so far and he’s back in the kitchen putting dishes together for what is a near full house this afternoon. Back and forth, from table to table he goes the entire time we’re here.
In front of me is the Miso Adour Trout — rainbow trout from the Adour River, served on top of chunky pieces of 48-hour honey braised Kurobuta pork. Delicately plated with miso caramel glaze, parsley puree and yuzu deftly painted on the plate, the trout is delectably fresh while the pork melts in your month. The tantalising sauces will even leave connoisseurs wanting more.
It’s no wonder the wait list to get into Odette is three months long; and it only just opened in November. A joint venture between the award-winning former Chef de Cuisine of Jaan and The Lo & Behold Group, Odette is affectionately named after Royer’s grandmother.
Serving modern fine dining French cuisine, Odette is an intimate venue with a main hall that seats a maximum of 32 and a private dining room that seats a further 12. Housed at the recently opened National Gallery Singapore, its interiors are inviting, mixing understated elegance with a touch of quirkiness. While it was London-based Universal Design Studio — the artistic brain behind the likes of Ace Hotel London and One Leicester Street — which designed and realised the interiors of the restaurant, the overall creative direction was overseen by artist Dawn Ng, wife of The Lo & Behold Group co-founder Wee Teng Wen. A central installation created by Ng — inspired by the integrity in Royer’s approach to working with ingredients — also adorns the restaurant.
Food-wise, anyone who has dined at Jaan will have a fair idea of what to expect: Each dish prepared and delicately plated to be as pleasing on the palate as it aesthetically is on the plate. “This is where every ingredient has its place and purpose, and is treated with the utmost care to highlight its purest flavours,” says Royer, 32.
Aside from the Miso Ardour Trout, another highlight is the Challans Guinea Fowl “A La Braise”, which is a tribute to Royer’s grandmother. The dish was inspired by the chicken and cream gravy that was lovingly made by his grandmother at numerous family dinners. Consisting of charcoal-grilled fowl breast and confit leg, the smoky meat is tender and juicy, and pairs wonderfully with the traditional French albufera cream sauce, served with foie gras coulant, celeriac risotto and Swiss chard. This dish is available at both dinner and lunch.
Packaged with the eight-course dinner menu is the Hokkaido Uni that has made its rounds on Instagram. Served in a transparent bowl with “spikes” that represents a sea urchin, the mozambique langoustine ceviche and uni is hidden under a mussel espuma “cloud” topped with Oscietra caviar. What’s adorable is how the dish is presented with strands of chives sticking out of the “cloud”, again like the spikes of a sea urchin. And yes, it is just as delightful on the tongue as it is for the eyes.
It’s only befitting that Royer has peppered the menu with a few of his well-loved signatures. These include the mouth-watering Mushroom Tea with cep sabayon, Heirloom Beetroot Variation (wedges of beetroot and a scoop of beetroot sorbet) and The 55’ Organic Egg, which is pine-smoked organic egg poached for 55 minutes and served with root vegetables, Swiss chard, artichoke chips, parsley sponge, Patrick Duler pancetta and Burgundy Aestivum truffle.
Though a fine dining establishment, Odette’s warm service and inviting charm quickly has patrons at ease. But while it is easy to brush off the restaurant as yet another Jaan, it’s too soon to judge. With Royer as chef-owner here, the sky’s the limit.
Odette, #01-04 National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew’s Road