Odette's Primrose Hill
London Born and Bred recently had the pleasure to eat at Odette’s, a chic restaurant owned by Bryn Williams, the highly praised classical chef and TV chef regular.
Odette’s has been open since 1978 in leafy and affluent Primrose Hill in North London. Bryn Williams’ path to Odette’s was perhaps slightly by chance, as Odette’s had been bought and refurbished by a businessman and Bryn Williams was selected as head chef to head up the relaunch. Things obviously went well, and he was able to buy out the owner after just a couple of years back in 2008.
Bryn Williams began his interest in food at a young age, having realised that the bakery in his home town of Denbigh, North Wales was doing something interesting and impressive, rather than the sliced white that came off of a supermarket shelf. He eventually worked a Saturday job at the bakery, and upon leaving school went to catering college, and then moved on to a job in Cafe Nicoise in Colwen bay but was urged by his head chef to go to London and learn his trade properly. A succession of jobs with none less than Marco Pierre White, Michel Roux Jr, a two starred restaurant in Nice, and a stint at The Orrery in Marylebone led to his appearence on “Great British Menu” and then his appointment and subsequent buy out at Odette’s fell into line shortly thereafter.
Odette’s has an emphasis on Welsh ingredients, harking back to Bryn’s Welsh roots. Wales, like Scotland, is a rich agricultural homeland to some astonishingly high quality meats and vegetables. Welsh Salt-marsh lamb for example is a world-renowned product sought after all over the world.
Odette’s sits in leafy Regent’s Park Road, a short walk from Chalk Farm tube station. Quiet and pretty, with many small food venues and interesting shops, Odette’s offers a fine dining experience on a small local scale. The interior is a quiet, warm inviting pseudo-gallic in style space. Service is friendly but impeccable, a small mistake in drinks ordering was dealt with in an impressively polite yet friendly manner, and as much detail or background as was wanted was offered on all the dishes and drinks. This kind of service is impressive, as you are treated not as an item to be processed, or a source of money to be fawned over until you’re out of the door, it was…. genuine.
Odette’s menu comprises a number of options, from a decently priced tasting menu, to à la carte, Sunday lunch and a seasonal Autumn menu. Being a little short on time as we were due later elsewhere, we chose the Lunch and early evening menu, a Prix Fixe menu often suited to pre theatre audiences or similar. Two courses or three were on offer, with the third being a desert or cheese. We chose starters and main plus drinks, and between us had the entirety of the menu.
An amuse bouche of gougères and homemade sourdough bread arrived with our drinks, the light choux pastries being filled with a delicious salty cheese custard. The bread was again delicious and prepared us for the first course.
Sarah chose beer battered turbot, served with home-made tartare sauce, confit lemon, and puréed pea and mint. Turbot is a beautiful fish, perhaps the best flavoured of the flatfish, and the light beer batter kept it moist and flaky.
I chose the pumpkin velouté , slow cooked egg, with trompette mushrooms (the poor man's truffle) and a pecorino scone. The pumpkin was rich and sweet, and mixed well with the slow cooked, runny yolked egg, with the mushrooms being slightly crispy delivering a lovely crunch in the liquidity of the dish. The pecorino scone served as a cheesy, fluffy version of a piece of bread with which to soak up some of the dish.
For main course Sarah chose the mushroom tortellini with Jerusalem artichoke, pickled onions and parsley. Every element of this dish was a delight and was akin to eating autumn on a plate.
I chose the Welsh beef suet pudding with crushed carrots and pickled walnut, and Bordelaise sauce. The suet pudding was rich, and full of beefy flavour, the suet pudding itself was light and crumbly (no mean feat in itself!) and texture wise matched nicely with the filling. No chewy exterior pudding here to contend with before you get to the filling. The crushed carrots played nicely against the rich beef, and the bordelaise sauce providing just enough tannic opposition to keep things balanced. We did not order any side dishes, but we still felt very adequately filled by the end.
One thing of note is that the dishes were all perfectly seasoned. Sometimes food can be over-seasoned, which is a mistake as there is no going back from that position. Otherwise under-seasoning can lead you to being initially disappointed in the dish, and resorting to seasoning yourself, which is kind of giving in? Here though, the seasoning was perfect, and impressive skill, born out of long experience in the kitchen.
For drinks there is an impressive wine list, and we were glad to see an excellent choice in wines by the glass including English wines. Aside from the wine and spirits, beer choice can often be left behind in fine dining restaurants (a mistake in my opinion), but for a very pleasant change Odette’s had a small range of local beers brewed by St Mary’s Brewery, situated in the crypt of St Mary’s church Primrose Hill, not more than 300 metres away. Lagers, IPA, APA Belgian Triple and a cider were all present, and it was refreshing to see such a good local choice.
As you have probably gathered by now, we were very impressed with all that we found at Odette’s. The food was utterly delicious, well presented, rich and filling, reasonably priced, and service was excellent. The food arrived in good time, yet not too quick. Information was offered on each dish with a friendly and knowledgeable approach. If you are in the area and looking for good food, then Odette’s should be high on your list. If as we were you were due for an evening in Camden yet wanted to find something a little more sophisticated than the Camden market food stalls. Then Odette’s is a very short walk away from the hustle and bustle.
Booking is recommended, and be sure to check their website for the seasonal menus, and the often changing lunch and early evening menus. Christmas menus are also currently showing as we run towards Christmas.
Odette’s can be found at:
130 Regent’s Park Road,
020 7586 8569