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Fine Dining Meets Fine Art at Singapore's National Gallery


Opening on November, 2015 in Singapore's National Gallery, Odette serves a modern take on haute cuisine, one emphasizing fresh, global ingredients. Story and photos by CHRISTOPHER KUCWAY.

Published on Dec 8, 2015

 

CHEF JULIEN ROYER'S EYES are like lasers, locking on to every detail in the kitchen. Out among diners, he's specific, a man of few words. With Gallic flair, he prefers to let his plates do the talking. Only once a sitting is done does Royer explain what he's aiming for with his restaurant, Odette, opening in Singapore's National Gallery.

Dive into his 55-minute organic egg and, at first, the savory chorizo ibérico and crunchy smoked potato are what stand out, but as the bolder flavors subside, I realize this is exactly how all eggs should taste. Royer's dishes insist that flavor, scent, texture and even touch be perfect.

55-minute organic egg
A delicious 55-minute egg.

Modern and French, now with an Asian twist, Odette is meant to change the way we think of haute cuisine—no need to be stuffy, but it is essential each dish be made from the best ingredients available—and is also a natural progression for Royer. Named after his grandmother who instilled in him a love of food, Odette is the chance he's relished since leaving Jaan: to control the whole restaurant process, from choosing ingredients to how they are prepared to how and where they are presented. "I would describe it as French-ingredient centric, contemporary cuisine," he says when pressed to define Odette, "that takes advantage of Singapore's position at the global crossroads of Southeast Asia." Start with quality ingredients, then create. That means uni and arctic surf clams from Hokkaido; pigeon and guinea fowl from France; line-caught and wild fish, such as John Dory, from New Zealand; fresh organic vegetables from wherever they are in season.

On the plate, textures and colors come through clearly in a beetroot course, heavy on all things crimson yet with a splash of white beets. Almost as vividly red is a warmed French pigeon breast that dissolves in the mouth. It surprises with a tenderness that belies its appearance, yet it's a small, grilled artichoke skin that lingers on the tongue and in the dinner conversation at the Ritz-Carlton Food & Wine Festival in Tokyo, where Royer has prepared a teaser menu of what will be served at Odette.

"We worked a lot, not just on the food, but on the atmosphere," he says. This was a collaborative effort with Wee Teng Wen from Lo&Behold, interior designer Sacha Leong and local artist Dawn Ng, each of whom, Royer says, helped translate his ideas and philosophy into the physical space: fine dining in a comfortable atmosphere. Its spot in the National Gallery Singapore means creativity abounds inside and out; in other words, this is food as art.

Chef Julien Royer
Chef Royer in his element.

So, is Royer excited? "A bit," he says, before darting off to the kitchen. 01-04, 1 St. Andrew's Rd., Singapore; odetterestaurant.com.

 

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Chef Royer in his element.
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