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130 Regent's Park Road
Odette’s has been a fixture in Primrose Hill since the year north London boy Rod Stewart reached number one with ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ That was 1978. Run since 2008 by Welsh chef-patron Bryn Williams, the place remains a shining northern star. It’s a place of balance. From coherent, smart decor to cooking that is satisfyingly modern, the enterprise is far, far more than a humble neighbourhood restaurant. Carte and tasting menus show what Bryn is all about – intelligent combinations, judicious sourcing (plenty of Welsh ingredients) and full-on flavours. Glazed pork cheek comes with apple and lobster bisque in a dynamite little surf & turf combo, with main-course loin of venison in the company of cavolo nero, celeriac and pear. There’s impressive technical skill on show, right up to dessert of lemon curd Arctic roll. The pretty little garden out back and fashionable kitchen table add to Odette’s broad appeal.
To celebrate the Year of the Woman, SquareMeal is running a series of interview profiles with top female chefs. Read here about Marianne Lumb’s colourful career as a private chef and the benefits of operating one of London’s smallest kitchens.
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130 Regent's Park Road
Chalk Farm Tube Station 419m
Camden Town Tube Station 1km
London Zoo 316m
Primrose Hill 317m
Tues-Fri 12N-2.30pm 6pm-10pm Sat-Sun 12N-3pm 6pm-10.30pm (Sun-9.30pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 5
I have dined here many times over the years as I live locally and would have eaten here more regularly, however the menu, which is fairly compact, didn’t seem to change much over the years, so once you had eaten there 3 times a year, you had pretty much eaten the entire menu – don’t get me wrong, it was beautifully cooked, seasonal food with a modern twist but the menu was a little repetitive. Now, fast forward a couple of years since I was last here and I was tempted in by a lunch menu deal which was exceptional value for money in this gem of a restaurant, and we were blown away by the food. Clearly chef has changed his cooking style (and menu), crispy pork belly, a truly outstanding piece of lamb belly and loin of lamb, perfectly pink but with crispy skin, starter of chicken wings and scallops on a coconut curry sauce, Cornish mackerel tartar, Odette’s Jaffa Cake, excellent wine list and a really nice house white very reasonable by the carafe. The staff could be chattier (and a little more informative), I asked for a side of kale and hasselback potatoes for the table, and we received one (not tiny, but certainly not enough for 4) potato, but that really is my only criticism. We will be back very soon.
Food + drink: 3
Despite being impressed with Odette’s, I confess that veggies miss out on its killer lunch deal: three courses for £17, Tuesday to Friday. Pescetarians do alright, but you may need to order a la carte for an entirely meat-free meal. We plumped for the set menu, lapping up the fact you can add half a bottle of house wine - a perfectly quaffable cabernet sauvignon - and coffee for just £9 (er, yes please).
Fish soup arrived with an artfully-adorned crouton, kicking off the meal with a summery flourish. My own starter of lamb ragu was served with perfectly al dente pappardelle, and perked up with satisfying bursts of pickled mustard seed. Mains were a mixed bag as my crushed celeriac with roasted beets was flavoursome but seemed incomplete; it lacked crunch, and the combination felt more like a showy side dish than the main event. It undoubtedly played second fiddle to my pal's regal-looking plaice with mussels, coastal herbs and a delectable butter sauce. Bitter chocolate tart with a cooling goat’s milk ice cream rounded off the meal satisfyingly, and several little extras made a lasting impression; excellent olives and soda bread, and homemade raspberry pastilles alongside supremely aromatic Americanos.
Sailing past a picture of Morrissey on route to the conveniences, we were very taken with a quick peek at the private room, seating ten. On this occasion, it provided ample space and soundproofing for Primrose Hill’s yummy mummies and their offspring (presumably named Oscar, Sophie, Halloumi and Caper). The main dining room was therefore free for the ladies who lunch, yet the space felt unintimidating (despite the starched linen and high incidence of twinsets).
Our waiter seemed genuinely gratified by our enjoyment, and enthusiastically shared titbits about ingredients without ever being intrusive. We left with a warm invitation to pop back soon; an offer we hope to take up, despite being strident South Londoners. Given the bum note that was my main, I’m not sure I’d fork out for the tasting menu; but with a lunch deal that reasonable, why wouldn’t we be back?
Food + drink: 4
We visited for the first time at lunch today and enjoyed their six course tasting menu. The dishes were all quite complex, though pleasingly we could identify what each of the ingredients was adding to the overall flavour. Whilst the intensity of flavours was not what I'd expect at the very top of the restaurant tree, everything we ate was nicely balanced, well cooked and presented cleanly . All the courses were of broadly equal quality and appeal to us- there were no standouts and conversely nothing notably less good than the others. Value, at £52 for six small courses, was about right we thought, and they serve decent breads, and a wine -list with plenty by the glass and carafe, and able to support a casual lunch or a serious celebration.
The restaurant itself doesn't look particularly opulent or stylish, but was pleasant enough and certainly doesn't detract. Service was timed about right- two hours for the 7 courses ( I had cheese too) and coffee. Whilst perfectly pleasant and polite, maybe the service might be a little more overtly friendly and engaged. Overall, we expected a good meal today and got it. One of the worries about tasting menus is portion size.. A bit too much over 7 courses and you're unreasonably stuffed, but equally too small feels mean and plates seeming just too empty. Pleasingly Odette's seem to have it pretty much right.
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