In 2013, Julien Royer, then the chef de cuisine at Jaan in Singapore, was named the “One to Watch” at the inaugural Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Since then, he has certainly kept busy living up to the expectations that the accolade comes with. During his time spent at Jaan, the restaurant earned a consistent spot on the prestigious list for three consecutive years, and in 2015, after securing the 11th spot, Royer decided it was time to move on. Late last year, in collaboration with the Singapore-based hospitality company Lo & Behold group, he opened Odette, a restaurant named after his grandmother where he is now chef-patron.
Chef-patron Julien Royer
Housed in the National Gallery in Singapore, Odette’s proprietors, with the help of interior designer Sacha Leong of Universal Design Studio, have successfully unlocked the potential of the voluminous and bright space once occupied by the city-state’s former city hall and Supreme Court.
An elegant dining room wrapped in a palette of soft neutrals and blush tones, accented with the polished swankiness that high ceilings, marble finishes, and brass touches bring, is a picture-perfect space that sings with just the right amount of politeness and formality.
At the center of the main room hangs a mobile art installation made of oak, brass, and paper by Singaporean artist Dawn Ng. Behind it is a glass-enclosed kitchen where diners can catch a glimpse of Royere and his team at work. Consistent with its atmosphere, the service is well-rehearsed and gracious, making it an ideal destination for business lunches by day and celebratory occasions by night.
As a distinguished envoy of French cuisine, Royer’s produce-driven menu showcases seasonal ingredients that are impeccably sourced and creatively presented.
Much attention has also been given to the extensive and well-crafted wine list, while the champagne trolley that makes its rounds at the tables holds a selection of fine bottles, including Odette’s own grand cru from the house of Henri Giraud.
With the theatrical parade of amuse bouche and bread selection that follows—replete with house-made butter and a dollop of lard, the very fashionable bread accompaniment of the moment—it is evident that Royer is now wearing the hats of both chef and restaurateur and realizes that world-class flourishes are essential to his Asia-based clientele.
The various tasting menus presented (a la carte is not offered) continue to essay the chef’s culinary tale and reveal a few of his signature dishes from Jaan, but not without reinvention. The robust and earthy amuse bouche of mushroom tea with ceps sabayon is now served with a delectable porcini brioche. His signature organic egg, cooked precisely at 65.3 degrees for 55 minutes, is now pine-smoked and served dramatically at the table with root vegetables enhanced with mushroom catsup and shaved black truffles from Burgundy.
A sage with vegetables, Royere prepares the heirloom beetroot variation— spotlighting his dexterity with the mundane. This colorful salad will convert even the non-beet lover as white, yellow, and red beets are prepared in various textures, including an intense beet sorbet.
There are many new standouts but it is Hokkaido uni and Brittany langoustine served under a white cloud of mussel spuma and topped with oscietra caviar and a gold leaf that will have many a diner buckling at the knees in sheer joy. At the end of the meal, the selection of cheeses from Alsace’s Bernard Antony, Eleveur de Fromages, will perfectly satisfy.
1 St. Andrews Road, National Gallery Singapore; +65.6385.0498.