The first time I heard of Bryn Williams was when I was working at The Orrery and, as is the case with most restaurants, one is made aware of all the notable alumni that have done time at the stoves. It wasn’t until many years later that when looking for a good neighbourhood restaurant in North London did Odette’s come back on the radar and this time, we were there without a second thought. Naturally, being in Primrose Hill bodes well in any situation, whether it’s a leisurely stroll up the hill to view all of London in its glory, or a lazy pint in the local pub, or even a cup of coffee in the many coffee shops on the street.
Nothing could steer me away from the Pigs head and black pudding terrine, crackling and pickled mushrooms and it certainly delivered with plenty of oomph, pan-fried in the classic brawn style. My main of Lamb, baby gem, peas and pastilla, whilst being perfectly cooked, lacked a distinctive personality that should have separated it from a run of the mill Wetherspoons-style lamb dish. Lemon parfait, blueberries, lemon curd, lemongrass syrup was a step too far in the sour direction and being sickeningly cloying. The blueberries didn’t stand a chance and I suffered at the hands of a severe sugar high soon after.
Having spoken to quite a few people and even a few professional reviews, it seems that whilst Odette’s is striving hard to move forward, it seems to be stuck in second gear. Perhaps the stuffiness of the place is cramping the food. Of late, it seems that all the great British produce that the media and everyone seems to be waxing lyrical about, is really more of a myth than a reality. It certainly isn’t as readily available as it is to our European cousins, nor is it as prolific, which is a real shame as it’s more often that not, that the skills of a chef and their prowess is often weakened and embarrassed by poor, lackluster, ingredients. There certainly is fabulous British produce out there, but for some reason, obtaining it is a real struggle. I guess these are the prices one pays for intensive farming and intensive rearing. But then again, it is the overcoming of these obstacles that makes truly great restaurants even greater, whilst the rest of us have to persevere and accept the fact that we are, in fact, going to see the quality of all our produce steadily decline over the decades, and the foods that really stand out and have flavours reminiscent of the past, are going to get more and more expensive. Which then leaves us all in a bit of a Catch 22.