The intimate rooms and leafy summer garden of Odette’s have seemed perfectly matched to prosperous Primrose Hill ever since the restaurant first opened in the 1970s. Under Welsh chef and TV regular Bryn Williams a stylish contemporary look has replaced the plush clutter of old, but it still has a reliable feel of snug comfort, complemented by charming service.
Williams’ cooking tends to the delicate and subtle, with sometimes-elusive hints rather than big upfront flavours or anything brash. For some, this delicacy would be a plus; for others, perhaps a bit bland. The style worked well in a delightfully smooth crayfish lasagne, topped by superlative little squid rings; chicken consommé with mushroom ravioli and crunchy toasted barley was a satisfying – again, subtle – blend.
To follow, though, sea bream with glazed endive and pine nut and raisin dressing was pleasant but unmemorable, while in braised beef cheek with hash brown in red wine jus, the whole ensemble was very rich, and the meat supremely tender, but real beefiness was hard to find. We were drawn to a pistachio cake dessert by the promise of calvados cream, but two normally highly distinctive flavours – pistachio and calvados – were oddly muted. In short, it’s a question of taste, though the kitchen’s prowess is not in doubt.