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Odette's (Restaurant)

Picture of Odette's in Swiss Cottage & Primrose Hill, London

130 Regent's Park Road, Swiss Cottage & Primrose Hill, London, NW1 8XL
Cuisine: Modern European
Tel: 02075868569 | Email to Odette's | Transport: Chalk Farm | Write review

Odette's Review

Best for: fine dining in Primrose Hill, celeb spotting.

Great: seasonal starters, award-winning mains.

Primrose Hill’s a funny old place. A 19th century urban village and island of prosperity, it’s been recast of late in our collective consciousness as a debauched playground for the stars, a walled-off pleasure garden for the most photogenic/degenerate A-listers to romp in.

It might be their night off – or perhaps it’s the weather - but there’s no sign of any bacchanalian excess when Bea and I cross the bridge from Chalk Farm on a bitter Thursday night. The toytown high street is preternaturally quiet, and while there are signs of life in the pub over the road, Odette’s isn’t exactly straining at the rafters when we arrive.

A Primrose Hill institution, Odette’s has been pulling in the locals for best part of thirty years. Chef Bryn Williams took the restaurant over in 2008, not long after his pan fried turbot with cockles and oxtail dish found its way – via the BBC’s Great British Menu – to the Queen’s table. He’s been performing the very tricky balancing act of turning out first rank fine dining in an understated, smart casual setting ever since. In a quiet way, it’s a rather brave thing to do, and, if the positive notices Odette’s is receiving elsewhere are anything to go by, it’s been going down a treat.

The welcome is warm, and if the service isn’t the slickest operation in town, it’s carried off with enough charm to allow us to pass over the occasional bumble. The dining room – still a work in progress, we’re told - is a little higgledy-piggledy, and though the navy blue wallpaper and naïve-style paintings of Williams’ homeland might not be to everyone’s taste, it’s a comfortable refuge from the Arctic weather.

Williams is a confident chef, imaginative and technically proficient, with an impressive lightness of touch. And there are times when he’s simply inspired. My starter of pigeon, foie gras, chocolate, vanilla salt and pickled cherry is a good example: there’s a heck of a lot going on here, and plenty of room for error, but nothing’s allowed to overpower, and nothing – save a stray cherry stone – seems out of place. It’s as good a starter as I’ve ever eaten. Bea’s roasted langoustine, broccoli and blue cheese gnocchi dish is similarly excellent.

The balancing act is pulled off just as impressively on my royally-approved main. It’s a confident chef who backs a fish – even one as meaty as turbot – to stand toe to toe with an ingredient as robust as oxtail, but the gamble pays off. The roasted turbot is given space, and more than holds its own, bringing a lightness and freshness to the earthy, rich oxtail base. Even the twin cockle and oxtail sauces manage to complement, rather than compete with each other.

Desserts (a warm chocolate mousse with passion fruit sorbet and a frankly unnecessary cheeseboard) also hit the spot, but something doesn’t quite add up, and it’s been gnawing away at me throughout the meal. It’s hard to put a finger on, but somehow the tension between the (rather pleasant) casual feel of the dining room and the formal excellence of the kitchen doesn’t quite work. It’s a shame that a menu that so effortlessly strikes up such ingenious balances should be thrown off kilter by a mismatched dining room, and while it’s not a deal-breaker, it does mean Odette’s is a couple of stops short of my idea of perfection.

Still, the proprietors probably aren’t all that worried. Odette’s is clearly a labour of love, and good on them for creating a restaurant that doesn’t just look to tick Michelin’s boxes. It seems to work for the Primrose Hill Set, as well, and they’ve probably eaten in enough top-notch restaurants to know a good thing when they see it. By the time we leave, Odette’s has filled with fur hats, heritage brands and a couple of familiar faces, and the dining room is buzzing quietly. Not your typical neighbourhood. Not your typical neighbourhood restaurant, either.
...read more

Customer Reviews for Odette's

Average (based on 3 votes): 3 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of Odette's.

“A nice room, but we should have left when the manager refused to turn down the (bad) dance music he was playing. Amuse-bouche and starters were fine, but £18 for a tiny square of polenta as a main course was insulting, and the rabbit was a small handful of meat, indifferently cooked - too little for a starter and a joke as a £20 main. We left so hungry we had to go to a second restaurant. This place clearly thinks it should have a Michelin star. I felt robbed.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Ben Evans, London (7 years 9 months ago)

“Fantastic afternoon eating, wonderful lunch cooked by Bryn himself.... the pidgeon was to die for, home cooked bread, can't wait to visit again.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Helen, Bethesda (8 years 9 months 16 days ago)

“A fine balance of flavours in food that looks minimal but is more than adequate. Good front of house and relaxing if rather small interior. Would go back there any time.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Scott, Caerdydd (8 years 10 months 11 days ago)

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Loved

"We were 3 of us and we had the best meal in London and the best service from very friendly and kind staff.Im sure I will back again.The girl at the till she was amazing and very knowledge about everything,..." Which venue is this?

Hated

"Door staff are apalling, i turned up at 9pm on a weekday and the Eastern European doorman said they were closed despite bring clearly open, returned a month later at 7pm on a weekday and once again the..." Which venue is this?

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