Odette’s: Primrose Hill, London
Odette’s is a stalwart of the London restaurant scene that’s been feeding the Primrose Hill set since the 1970s. But since taking the helm in 2008, chef patron Bryn Willams has breathed new life into this iconic eatery.
The dining rooms are small and classy and staff are friendly, though inconsistently attentive. The mood is relaxed, the atmosphere welcoming, and the intimate alcoves downstairs are irresistibly cosy. It’s a lovely setting in a suitably lovely part of town.
But decor is largely irrelevant here; it’s the inventive, beautifully executed food that’s the main draw. Having cut his teeth under Michel Roux at Le Gavroche, Williams’ culinary credentials are evident and there’s a healthy dose of his native Wales on the menu too.
Best known for a successful stint on The Great British Menu, the man himself wasn’t around on the day of our visit as he was demonstrating his skills to the nation again, this time on Saturday Kitchen. But by all accounts he’d left his kitchen in very capable hands.
Roasted wood pigeon with fois gras, chocolate and vanilla salt made an excellent starter. Cooked lightly and served medium rare, the meat was evidently well rested and perfectly juicy and tender. A small pastry parcel containing the leg was crisp and delicious, while pickled figs (a substitute for the cherries listed on the menu, but in no way an inferior choice) balanced the silky richness of the foie gras beautifully.
Boyfriend helpfully described his pig’s head and black pudding terrine with crispy ears and pickled mushrooms as “really good”. When pushed to elaborate, he added “very meaty”. Typically vague descriptions but, having tried it, both pretty accurate.
The mains were equally impressive. Boyfriend’s braised Welsh beef with mashed potato and onion and parsley salad was also “very good”. This time I got “tender” out of him too, and I took his reluctance to share as a sign it was to the same standard as my saddle of rabbit. Served with mustard gnocchi, celery, carrot and cumin purée, this was a stand-out dish and lovingly presented, right down to the little bunny ribs.
Overall, we had a terrific meal. Odette’s is an excellent neighbourhood restaurant serving well-devised, memorable food in a very comfortable setting. As if there weren’t already enough reasons to envy the privileged of Primrose Hill, having this little gem on their doorstep is another to add to the list.
There’s a steady stream of well-to-do locals already filing through the doors and, if the food’s consistently this good, it’s a deserving go-to destination for foodies from further afield too.
Odette’s: 130 Regent’s Park Road, London, NW1 8XL
Reservations: 020 7586 8569