Odette, National Gallery.

This is where Florian took me for our second anniversary dinner! ODETTE!

He asked me a couple months back to name the first restaurant that came to mind, that I’d love to try. ‘Odette’, I replied in a heartbeat. And then I let go of that conversation.

Fast forward and there we were, walking across the National Gallery and the surrealism of it all sank in.

We were quickly led to our table nestled within a space that was warm, modern, unimposing and humble considering its three stars the Michelin guide had awarded it. Service throughout the evening was attentive, friendly, yet not intrusive.

From where we sat, we had a good view of the kitchen, with full length glass windows and sliding doors separating us from the action. Midway through our meal, my eyes met Chef Julien’s and he gave me a smile. I smiled back! It was great knowing that the head chef was in the kitchen making sure things ran smoothly and food came out top-notch.

Quite quickly, we were served our pre-dinner snacks.

From left to right, we had Smoked Eggplant Tartlette, Sardine Taco with Pickled Onions, and a Modern Gourgere with Comte Cheese.

All were good, although nothing particularly mind-blowing.

The forth snack arrived soon after – Mushroom Tea with Ceps Sabayon, Croutons and Toasted Walnuts, served with a Ceps Brioche Halve.

Now, this I really enjoyed! The depth of flavour in the wild mushroom broth contrasted with the creamy sabayon and the little crunches here and there made this a delight to eat.

We were swerved Black Truffle Brioche, Rye Sourdough and Mini Baguettes with organic olive oil from Catalonia, and butter with toasted buckwheat.

Florian couldn’t resist all the delicious breads coming in different flavours and textures. He definitely ate his fill with little regret aside from an extremely full stomach post-dinner. I had to practice lots of restraint not indulging in the carbs lest I ruined my appetite for the rest of dinner. What I did try was really moreish especially dipped in that deliciously fruity olive oil.

With the breads sitting out to accompany our meal, our first course was swiftly served: Sitting atop a bed of Spot Prawn Tartare with little bits of refreshing apple, was sweet Marukyo Uni, Mussel Jus Cloud, and Kristal Caviar.

This was easily one of my favourites of the night. Then again, I had quite a few favourites. The mingling of sweet oceanic flavours with the crisp texture of apples and little bursts of brininess from the caviar made our hopes soar for the rest of the courses the come.

On the side, we also had Uni on toast. While nice, this paled in comparison to the main star above.

Hello!

Hello from the other side.

Next up, we had Scottish Scallops with Wasabi and Dill, and Horseradish Snow, alongside Tapioca Crackers with Seaweed and Butter.

Mildly sweet scallops with just a subtle hint of wasabi. The fresh dill lifted the dish with its herbaceous, citrus profile.

The crackers reminded me very much of our ‘keropok’, aka shrimp crackers that I used to love eating as a child. Only these were much lighter.

The Tomato Collection had Florian tearing with emotion. The simplicity of ingredients Chef Julien possessed, were brought to a whole new level with thought and technique.

The use of tomatoes so that nothing got left behind made for a dish that highlighted their glory whether underripe, perfectly ripe, or overripe. Fresh tomatoes, tomato jam and tomato jelly came out to play with Olive Oil Ice-Cream and Geranium Oil. You’ll definitely taste a warm European summer in this dish. Quite a revelation and probably only second to Massimo Bottura’s Five Ages of Parmesan in Florian’s books.

I had the Rosemary Smoked Organic Egg next, which got plopped into a glass bowl of Smoked Potato Syphon, Chorizo Iberico and Browned Butter Meunière.

I was instructed to gently stir the egg into the mix, but not too much or the texture will be compromised.

This was comforting. I lapped it all up!

Florian on the other hand, supplemented his menu for the Hokkigai Clam ‘Grenobloise’ instead. As ‘Grenobloise’ suggests, the clam was cooked in a sauce encompassing buerre noisette ie browned butter, lemon and parsley.

This was also delicious. I thought my egg was better but Florian thought his clams trumped mine so all in all, we were both happy.

The dish that I struggled most with was this Abalone and Foie Gras with Pickled Shitake and Pork Consommé.

The wedges of abalone were fine but I didn’t like the chunks of foie gras. This was really all me rather than Odette since I’ve always said that foie gras isn’t to my taste. However, I have started to appreciate foie gras in alternate forms like as a foam, or in tiny specks for flavour. I somehow assumed that it would be used similarly here rather than in its pure form.

Whatever disappointment I had for the course above, was totally made up for with the beautifully cooked Kinki ‘Japanese Rock Fish’. It had a thin crisp skin that gave way to velvety smooth flesh.

The bouchot mussels, paimpol beans and prawns that swam in the mussel-watercress broth was reminiscent of the sea. All my favourite things in one dish. I couldn’t have asked for more!

Before our main course was served, we were shown the pigeon that had been lovingly sacrificed and cooked for our stomachs.

Kampot Pepper (from Cambodia) Crusted Pigeon, served with fresh Solliès figs, Jerusalem Artichokes, Pigeon Jus and Black Garlic Reduction.

This was divine. The pepper added some heat without being overly spicy. The medium-rare pigeon was incredibly tender and slightly irony in a way that left me wanting.

On the side, we were also served Pigeon Leg with Hazelnut Crumbs and a Heart and Liver Mouselline Parcel.

Who would have thunk that the heart and liver could be packaged in a little miniature samosa-like pastry and not only look good, but actually give the tastebuds a good tickle?! Florian and I ate it with relish even though we don’t usually eat offal.

The pigeon leg was so tender in spite of how skinny it looked. No wonder, as the message attached to the leg informed me, it is also Chef Julien’s favourite part of the pigeon. Florian hesitated eating it because he couldn’t stand the sight of the foot. His loss! I told him that the way the claw looked, it was totally giving him the finger for not polishing the meat off the bone.

Before dessert, we had a refreshing palate cleanser of Grape Granita with Fresh Grapes and Aloe Vera, Sorbet and Dried Strawberries.

The finish our meal, we had the Yuzu Tart – Butter Cookie base, Yuzu Custard, Basil Sorbet, and Shiso Espuma.

Well balanced with a nice level of acidity wafting through each bite. I liked the crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside yuzu meringues, and the delicate, crumbly, buttery sablé.

We ordered some tea infusions after dinner. A Kaffir Lime one for me, and Lemongrass for Florian. They looked so clear, like water, but tasted amazing. I think I’ll make some infusions at home whenever I have extra herbs lying around.

Douceurs were promptly served soon after our warming teas.

We were invited to start with the Raspberry Lychee Ice Lollies. Yum.

Then Florian and I had the Gooseberries and crazy juicy, super sweet Musk Melon from Japan.

Florian had these Tonka Bean Chocolate Tarts last but I had mine second to last.

Cherry-vanilla flavours of the grated tonka lightly flavoured the rich chocolate ganache and thin cookie-like tart crust. Nice.

My favourite for last and thankfully, Odette did not disappoint! Perfectly crunchy, caramelised Vanilla and Rum Canelés that were soft and custardy on the inside.

The perfect ending.

Until we let out to Marta that we were celebrating our second anniversary. Before we could bid Odette goodbye, we were quickly presented with a Snickers-inspired dessert to commemorate our celebration.

Chocolate Biscuit with Peanut Cream and Salted Caramel Ice Cream. I thought it would be heavy and rich but somehow, even with my belly already bursting, I found space to pack some of this away, reaching for more after every bite until we had both worked our way through.

Bellies aching with pleasure, and hearts full of love, we finally stood up, said our thank yous, and reluctantly walked away from Odette, arms around each other.

Odette certainly lived up to our expectations, surpassed even. The food was faultless, but what made the experience even more memorable were the staff who made us feel so welcomed and wanted.

As a parting gift, we were presented with a gorgeous box with a bottle of their homemade jam.

If Florian were to ask me whether I’d like to make a return to Odette? I would say yes in a heartbeat once more. I am interested to see how Chef Julien continues to develop his cuisine and come up with more creative ways of stretching simple ingredients. I love that there is not a lot of theatrics and ‘molecularisation’ of what he serves. Rather, the food while elevated, tastes honest, wholesome, and comforting – something that not many top restaurants are able to achieve.

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