There were audible gasps this week as Julien Royer’s Odette was named the "Highest New Entry" on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list debuting straight in at no.9. Not only did the modern French restaurant in Singapore scoop two Michelin stars within nine months of opening, but it has also staked the claim as highest ever new entry on the aforementioned prestigious restaurant list.
Young French chef Julien Royer first sprung onto the Singapore culinary scene in 2011, taking up a four-year tenure at the celebrated 70th-floor restaurant JAAN, achieving the heady heights of no.11 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants with his French-influenced menu. Departing in 2015, Royer took up the reins in his own exciting project, giving life to Odette, his new sophisticated French restaurant in the iconic National Gallery Singapore.
"2017 will be an exciting year for the restaurant, and as we grow and evolve, we hope to continue in this endeavour to nurture and inspire the next generation of chefs," said Royer of the achievement.
With a proven track record, the affable young French chef's words are bound to ring true at the helm of his new venture, co-owned with Lo and Behold. Let's take a closer look at what makes Odette so special.
While the menu retains Royer's signature produce-driven style that made Jaan the one to watch back in 2013, this time round Royer's paying tribute to his roots, right down to the name above the door, which belongs to one of his greatest culinary influences, his grandmother.
Inside the colonial-era building, high ceilings and airy and contemporary interiors, and a smattering of original art, set the scene for the restaurant. Barber and Osgerby's Universal Design Studio's neutral interiors offset by the touches of marble and brass set the tone, while art peppers the walls and a mobile made of butterfly-like shapes by Singaporean artist Dawn Ng is suspended across the ceiling in the centre of the restaurant.
Royer's mantra of "produce then technique" is acted out in a kitchen fronted by glass doors and visible to restaurant diners as part of the theatre. Having, trained under legendary chefs Michel Bras and Bernard Andrieux, Royer remains true to respecting the integrity of his carefully sourced ingredients and his rural French upbringing.
Coining the term "essential cooking" to describe his style of honest dishes that allow the raw materials to shine, there are some echoes of his signature dishes at JAAN. While the four, six or eight-course tasting menus change regularly, they might include his reinvented signature dish of organic egg, cooked at 65.3 degrees for 55 minutes (see below), along with other beautifully colourful dishes, such as French guinea fowl served with celeriac risotto and foie gras croquette, trout with grilled octopus and romanesco broccoli, splashed with miso caramel, and lemon tart, a final ode to Madame Odette.
Feast your eyes on some more of Julien Royer's dishes from Odette: