Opened in the historic location of National Gallery Singapore (formerly City Hall and Supreme Court), Odette is one of the few restaurants that had started business ahead of the official launch of National Gallery Singapore.
Collaborating with Lo & Behold, Chef Julien Royers is back after his departure from Jaan, where he previously used to be head chef at. Named after his grandmother, Odette features what Chef Julien does best; whipping up gastronomic dishes employing the use of classic French cooking methods and seasonal produce. The interior of the restaurant exudes elegance within simplicity without heading anywhere near pretentious so you would still be sitting at ease. For weekdays lunch hours, three-course and four-course set lunches are available, alongside the six-course tasting menu which is the only menu available for weekend lunch.
First up were the canapes, which were just one of the few “surprise” items that is not stated within the six-course tasting menu. For a start, the waiters would ask you politely for your palm, where he would introduce your the various elements of the canape before constructing it right there, squeezing out the egg yolk emulsion, positioning the delicate shallots, cheese and truffle into place thereafter. Definitely a fun and interactive way to get the meal started.
Simultaneously, the rest of the canapes would also be served. All three were gastronomic, but out of the Fourme D’Ambert, Charcoal Pita and Chili Crab Espuma, the last one probably seemed really familiar as compared to the others probably due to it being something closer to local ground. Pretty refined, the Chili Crab Espuma did not carry any sharp and stinging spiciness like the usual (it’s all about fine dining here), but you could feel the soul of the chili crab that we know lurking around in it, while it emphasizes more on the spices and flavours used to create that familiar flavour.
(Mushroom Tea Sayabon)
Next up was the amuse bouche; the Mushroom Tea Sayabon which is also yet another dish that is not stated within the menu. The Mushroom Tea was brewed from dried mushrooms, while only to be poured in by the waiter upon serving into the sayabon. There is no denying that creamy, eggy flavour of the sayabon going so well with the fragrance of the earthy mushroom tea; although conceptually similar, it would not be really comparable to cream of mushroom, for the richness of the flavours sets it far apart. The accompanying brioche were really interesting as well; shaped liked mini croissants, each of them was buttery, flaky and crusty, and definitely went well with the Mushroom Tea Sayabon.
Served after the amuse bouche, the bread platter was yet another course that is not stated within the menu. Coming with three different variations of bread, we preferred the Thyme-flavoured Brioche and the Chestnut Focaccia; the former soft, light and fluffy with a warm crusty exterior while the Chestnut Focaccia was flaky, crusty and fluffy, coming with a little salt sprinkled over the top to make it so addictive. Sourdough Rye was in fact pretty much as good; the freshly-baked bread was fluffy and just moist enough, carrying much bite, but our tastebuds seem to be prefer lighter and less dense bread. Coming together with the bread were two different types of butter; a non-salted butter and Lardo butter, both of which complimenting the breads very well. We were hooked to the latter though; butter infused with fat, it carried a light hint of meaty savouriness, and the slices of cured meat definitely helped push the flavours to the next level by enhancing it. We were so hooked to the bread and butter that we actually finished a platter and asked for another, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
(Flame Grilled Hokkaido Saba)
The first course of the six-course tasting menu for lunch was the Flame Grilled Hokkaido Saba, served with Dill Emulsion, Avocado and Horseradish, where the waiters would sprinkle the horseradish onto the dish upon serving it at the table. Given my love for Aburi Salmon, this dish was one that I truly enjoyed as well. The Hokkaido Saba was cut to the right size; small enough to be savoured in one bite, but chunky enough so you get enough flavours to run on the tongue. Lightly seared, the Saba carried a smoky flavour, but still maintained its firm chewiness in aburi-form. The dill emulsion helped to cut the heavy flavours of the fish, while the horseradish salt served frozen sent my tastebuds on a trip; I had definitely never tasted anything quite like it before where you feel its cool temperature similar to mint, but carries the same tinge of numbness as mustard would do.
(Heirloom Beetroot Variation)
Second on the table was the Heirloom Beetroot Variation; a dish that was also a classic of Chef Julien Royer during his Jaan days. The version at Odette features Salt-Baked Beetroot, Stracciatella “Artigiana” and Honeycomb This is an inspiring dish considering the main character here is beetroot, where it is done in a variation of styles and cooking methods. I particularly liked the sorbet and meringue; the former was bright and sweet, but yet you could tell the distinct flavours of beetroot going on in there. The latter was interesting texture-wise; airy, yet spongy but gone with a bite. A really creative attempt to serve one ingredient in different textures and styles to create something simple, yet gastronomic.
Following the Heirloom Beetroot Variation, the Pine-Smoked 55 Degree Organic Eggs were the next to be served. One of Jaan’s most iconic dishes, the presentation remains dramatic here, with the eggs sitting in an egg tray while served over a box spewing smoke from dry ice. The waiter would subsequently explain the dish, and the eggs would be poured into the serving plates threafter.
(Pine-Smoked 55 Degree Organic Eggs)
Coming with Forgotten Vegetables, Patrick Duler Pancetta and Burgundy Truffle, this dish was an interesting play of textures and flavours that is really hard to explain with words. The sous-vide organic egg yolk sits comfortably within the bowl after settling from its jiggly and wobbly state while landing on the bowl, alongside the generous amount of shaved truffle. Featuring a creamy and gooey dark orange yolk that is typical of organic eggs, it was fresh and flavourful.
(Hand-Picked Scottish Scallop)
Fourth course up on the table was the Hand-Picked Scottish Scallop. It is noted that this dish seem to come in a number of variations from the posts on Instagram that we have seen; it came with Charcoaled Kurobuta Pork Belly, Miso Caramel and Yuzu Zest on the day we visited. This was one dish that instantly blew us away; my dining partner first had the Kurobuta Pork and was impressed by its execution while I was surprised by how the scallops went in the mouth on my very first mouthful. The scallops served on this dish was possibly the freshest I have ever tried; smooth, plump, succulent and bouncy despite being seared just a little for that bit of crustiness on the exterior, while the Kurobuta was char-grilled to melt-in-the-mouth perfection; tender yet smoky. The Miso Caramel adds an umami factor to the dish, while the seared broccoli gave the dish a refreshing crunch. Yuzu usually carries a sharp, zingy flavour that I am not particularly fond of, but this one works just fine, adding a little bit of its zesty flavours which went pretty well with the dish without standing out all by itself.
(Juniper Roasted Venison Saddre)
Another dish that seemed to be rotated around was the fifth course; Juniper Roasted Venison Saddre, which was served with Celeriac, Chestnut Pasta and Sauce “Poivrade”. The venison used here was a quality cut, and it was done medium-rare with a pinkish centre. Coming with no gamey stench, this was utterly enjoyable for its bouncy meat, while the sauces and the celeriac was able to help neutralise the flavours of the dish when it gets too meaty. The accompanying potato puree was really impressive; smooth, rich and creamy without feeling any bit grainy nor airy while the accompanying side pasta carried a slight tinge of sweetness and a moderate hint of truffle aroma from the generous amount of truffles being served atop.
(Bay Leaf Espuma, Cucumber Sorbet, Apple and Celery Granita)
Making a smooth transition from the entrees to the dessert, another item not listed within the menu showed up on the table. Bay Leaf Espuma, Cucumber Sorbet, Apple and Celery Granita was an interesting play of both textures and flavours yet again; the savoury ingredients are being presented in this dish as a dessert which definitely brings one from the savoury items to the sweets smoothly. The zingy espuma definitely went well with the refreshing and cooling sorbet, while despite the strong flavour of the celery granita here, it seemed to compliment the whole dish rather well, fusing with the other elements instead of overwhelming it.
(Williams Pear Comme Un Milefeuille)
The last course features a Williams Pear Comme Un Milefeuille; Dark Rum Jelly, Nougatine and Salted Caramel ice-cream. The salted caramel ice-cream started things off on a rather subtle note, but moving on to the Williams Pear Comme Un Milefeuille, the crisp crepe layers were covered in sticky caramel sweetness, while coming with layers containing chunky bits of caramalised Williams Pear alongside rich salted caramel and strong, solid Rum Jelly in between which is not shy on alcohol. This dessert pretty much gives a sweet yet dreamy end to the whole meal.
Do not leave immediately after you are done with your dessert though; stay on for there is yet another surprise coming. Served after the desserts, the Petit Fours selection includes Caneles, Salted Caramel Toffee and Chocolate Pralines with yet another curious-looking dish that seemed to be stuck to a wooden bark using satay sticks. The meringue-looking items were the most gastronomic of the lot; so soft, so fluffy with a milk chocolate at the bottom and seemingly leaks sweet, zingy liquid when it pops in your mouth. Caneles usually get stuck in the teeth amidst the chewiness, but these were well crusted on the outside, but soft and easy to chew on the inside. Pralines would definitely catch the chocolate-lovers; made using 64% Dark Chocoolate featuring smooth, bittersweet insides while the Salted Caramel Toffee were chewy and packed with flavour without any gritty bits within. A tip; have the Salted Caramel Toffee last so that it does not wash out the flavours of the other items.
During our entire meal here, we felt that the food was impressive; the flavours and the play of textures had seemingly brought our tastebuds on a trip to many levels that we had never felt before. Each item seem to be not only done to perfection, you could also feel the science and precision behind each and every dish in its execution, as well as the intricate plating of the items to ensure that they are both visually and gastronomically perfect. Service was also exemplary here; despite its formal setting, the wait staff had never once made us feel uncomfortable nor were they any bit snobbish, and were attentive and also took their time to explain what was going on in each dish when we could not recall it. They also interacted well with the diners, making casual talks when possible. It probably would not hit some people, but Odette is truly a place that one must at least visit once in their life if they get afford it; it is truly an all-round experience that is worth splurging for considering how the food went, and the level of service that was provided. We have enjoyed our meal there, and we are definitely looking forward to coming back again once we have started saving up again; an experience that is well worth being the meal of the year.
National Gallery Singapore
1 St Andrew’s Road
Telephone: +65 6385 0498