For many years, Simone Green ran this Primrose Hill institution with great verve and hospitality. Under subsequent owners, it lost its way, and has recently been re-launched by Vince Power. This ‘Godfather of Gigs’ (his words) made a mint out of his Mean Fiddler group, and has now re-invented himself in the hospitality ‘space’, with interests including the good-but-pricey Pigalle Club in Piccadilly, and the Spiga pizzeria in Soho.
It was once thought that Odette’s too would become a Spiga, but VP seems to have decided that this was a chance to show that he could ‘do’ a quality traditional establishment. The old, famous mirrored interior may have been swept away, but the swish new look – elegant, cosy and not trying too hard – sits well in this picture-book corner of town.
The chosen chef, Bryn Williams, has won a lot of PR mileage out of cooking at Her Majesty’s 80th, and his efforts have been glowingly reviewed in some quarters. Expectations thus raised, our meal fell somewhat short. A deeply flavoured Jerusalem Artichoke velouté was the best dish, but the accompanying bread was no more than fine. Main courses of both partridge and duck were rather uneventful. A pudding of pears with shortbread fell somewhere between admirably direct and plain boring.
If the pricing here were still of the neighbourhood-restaurant variety, it might be tempting to dismiss such reservations as quibbles. But bills here are now hefty, even for this chichi bit of town. In fact, Odette’s now betrays some of the classic features of restaurants owned by media tycoons (of which Babylon in Kensington, owned by Sir Richard Branson, is a more extreme example). Your typical multi-squillionaire seems good at creating convivial places to eat. They seem to forget, however, that not everyone’s wallet is as a big as their own.