Dishing it out:
Julien Royer’s grandmother has been a hot topic around town these past couple of months. Because her name, Odette, is what the former head chef of JAAN has chosen to front his new restaurant.
Odette officially opened its doors in the National Gallery earlier this month, but already seats are booked solid until January. “Be friends with the chef,” says Royer with a grin, when we ask how one can get a reservation now.
With expectations at an all-time high, thanks to Royer growing to prominence after winning accolades like “One to Watch” at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013 and leading JAAN to a spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014 list, patrons of the modern French restaurant might be let down to find signatures like the 55-degree smoked egg and heirloom beetroot variation reappearing here, even if the execution is flawless. But Royer reveals it’s just part of his opening act:
“These dishes are important to me and are representative of who I am as a chef and where I’ve come from.
“I believe that there is a natural progression as I evolve as a chef, and the dishes at Odette will also continue to evolve.” – Julien Royer
For now, Royer prefers teasing diners with just a couple of new dishes that hint at the promise of more to come. Hokkaido Uni, for instance, shows off the chef’s commitment to the best produce and finishing it off with his own ingenious touches. Here, fresh sea urchin and lobster are hidden under a white cloud of mussel cream and topped with a small dollop of caviar for an intense umami hit. There is also a more homespun quality to Royer’s dishes now, which comes through in the juniper-roasted venison saddle paired with mulled wine pear and a poivrade.
To match with the food, Royer has opted for a compact French-leaning wine list sourced from small producers, not because he harbours fanciful notions of working only with boutique producers, but because it is just more practical to keep the list small for now. “There are too many romanticised stories and lies about what goes into the business these days.” he says candidly.
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The romance might not lie in the wine list, but it shines through in the interior of the restaurant, which is decorated by a palette of light pinks, nudes and greys. By day, soft natural light streams in through the windows of the main 32-seater dining room. At night, the place transforms into an intimate spot with an enticing glow. This comes from a soundproofed glass wall that separates the kitchen from the dining room.
So sip a glass of bubbly, sit back and enjoy Royer’s art from the kitchen. When it comes to Odette, it will only get better from here.
Spotlight On: Hokkaido Uni, 55’ Organic Egg, North Highlands Beef Tartare
Insider’s Tip: Here’s one for the diners who like seeing how their dish is whipped up. Ask for the alcove seat facing the kitchen, which is Royer’s “favourite seat in the house” as it offers the best view of the action.
Address: #01-04 National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew’s Road