Inside the kitchen with chef Julien Royer

C'est magnifique

Text: Denise Kok

Video: Vanessa Caitlin
Image: Odette

The chef-owner of Odette on his grandmother, culinary inspiration, and the elements that ground his restaurant at the National Gallery Singapore

There's something about Odette that makes one feel very, very small. In contrast to Jean-Francois Milou's masculine resurrection of the historic National Gallery Singapore, Odette — which sits within the former Supreme Court office — draws upon vestiges of a softer world. Sheathed in shy shades of pink accented with steadying touches of muted gold, the main dining hall bids you to run your finger across everything. Soft grey banquette seats are velvety to the touch while impossibly thin glassware casts gossamer shadows on perfectly pressed linen. Anchoring the room is Dawn Ng's art installation — a constellation of thinly-cut oak, copper, and polyfoam that descends from the ceiling like a pile of leaves swirling in the wind. 

There's an immutably feminine charm about the space, and unsurprisingly so. After all, chef-owner Julien Royer named the restaurant after his grandmother, Odette, the woman who taught him about what it means to cook with seasonal ingredients, tuning his cooking philosophy to one that begins and ends with produce as the star. There's pigeon — finished on Japanese binchōtan to give it a smokey, umami flavour — sided with a bed of forgotten vegetables such as Jerusalem artichoke and parsley root; and sweet Cevennes onions from Southern France simply cooked in brown butter and garlic, then paired with a deeply earthy black truffle chantilly. For a study in contemporary French cooking, one needn't look further than what's on the menu at Odette. 

#01-04, National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew's Road. Tel: 6385 0398.