The art of fine-dining

Julien Royer, co-owner of French restaurant Odette opening at the National Gallery Singapore, says he will serve modern French cuisine built around produce

Odette co-owners Julien Royer and Wee Teng Wen.
Odette co-owners Julien Royer and Wee Teng Wen. ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN

Many restaurants may have gone casual this year, but French chef Julien Royer is a firm believer that fine-dining is "still trendy".

"People want to indulge," says the chef-owner of the highly anticipated French restaurant Odette, which is named after his grandmother.

It opens for dinner service on Nov 2 at the National Gallery Singapore's former Supreme Court wing.

In a city where casual restaurants are proliferating, Odette is the first fine-dining one to have opened so far this year.

The project, expected to run into the millions, is a collaboration between the 33-year-old, who left French restaurant Jaan in June, and The Lo & Behold Group's managing partner, Mr Wee Teng Wen, 35.

Mr Wee says: "Odette is our re-approach towards fine-dining, which is seen as stiff, cold and off-putting. We want a real and welcoming ambience, where the food is pure and honest."

The duo gave Life a sneak peek of Odette, where construction is wrapping up.

The spacious 48-seat restaurant with plush seating has a private room for up to 12 diners.

Four diners can also book the chef's table, which is in the kitchen.

It is clear the kitchen is chef Royer's new playground.

Young chefs, average age of 25, are buzzing around, busy preparing for a menu tasting.

Add an equally excited chef Royer, who is showcasing his fancy custom-made island kitchen from Italy. It features a yakitori grill, teppanyaki hot plate and a swivelling salamander grill.

On how things have changed since moving from Jaan, he says: "I have a lot more freedom in every single aspect. It is also a new learning experience for me. It is very different when you own a place and shape the dining experience - everything from the cutlery to the music."

He adds, though, that the DNA of his cuisine is similar to his Jaan days.

The restaurant features "modern French cuisine built around produce".

For example, he highlights ingredients such as pigeon from Plouneour Menez in Brittany; Hokkaido flounder; and raw milk cheese from artisan cheese specialist Bernard Antony.

Prices will start at $78 for a three-course lunch and $208 for a six-course dinner.

Summing up the experience so far, the more softspoken Mr Wee notes that it has been a smooth process in setting up the restaurant.

Odette is the latest opening for the restaurant group this year, in addition to OverEasy Orchard restaurant, gin bar The Rabbit's Hole and creperie The Daily Roundup cafe. Other restaurants under the group are The Black Swan in Cecil Street, and The White Rabbit in Harding Road.

"With Odette, we had the benefit of planning in advance, and to assemble our dream team," says Mr Wee.

Odette adds to the slew of restaurants to open at the National Gallery Singapore.

Others in the pipeline include National Kitchen by Violet Oon Singapore; Cantonese restaurant and rooftop bar Yan and Smoke & Mirrors; and modern Indian restaurant Saha.

• Odette opens on Nov 2 for dinner at the National Gallery Singapore, 1 Saint Andrew's Road, 01-04. It is open from noon to 2pm, 7 to 9.30pm, Monday to Saturday, and closed on Sunday and public holidays. Make reservations online at

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 25, 2015, with the headline 'The art of fine-dining'. Print Edition | Subscribe