Tuesday, October 20, 2009


We found ourselves at Odeon on Friday evening thanks to the Tastings Journal $45 Five Course Menu. The online menu looked really promising and the addition of a prosecco toast and glass of wine made it too good to pass up. Well... at least the great company and fun conversation took the focus off of the food and service.

Our party of 6 was seated in the upstairs dining room at a table crammed next to another large party. The table placement combined with our waiter's impossibly soft voice made ordering a challenge. The waiter insisted on bringing us all red wine though two of us repeatedly asked for white. After hiding our glasses to prevent him from pouring us the red, he relented and brought us white.

There were two choices for each of the starter courses, so B and I teamed up to order one of each. Sorry for the poor picture quality, the lighting was very low. On second thought, I don't think even the brightest light could make this food shine.

B started with the Goat Cheese Arugula Salad (arugula topped with goat cheese in balsamic homemade vinaigrette). Nothing much to say here: it was a pile of arugula with some goat cheese and balsamic.

My salad was Apple Mesclun (mesclun mix, tossed with homemade honey mustard dressing, walnuts, and sliced apples). The mesclun greens were wilted and soggy, and couldn't hold up against the crisp apples and crunchy walnuts.

Next up for B was the Funghi E Granchi (mushroom caps stuffed with crabmeat in a garlic butter sauce) which B described as an average wedding appetizer. He also added: "It wasn't a chore to finish them." Moving on . . .

Spinach Calamari Saltati (fresh calamari sautéed with spinach, garlic, fresh lemon, and virgin olive oil). Saltati must mean rubberbands in Italian. Most of the calamari were laughably tough and the sauce did nothing to soften them up or add any flavor to the rubber.

The Tastings Journal menu bills the lobster bisque as "one of my favorites, an amazing bisque!" Wow, we must have been eating completely different soups. It had this weird sweet and sour taste, and wasn't particularly warm.

B had the Cream of Broccoli Soup which tasted pretty much like Campbell's. Definitely not bad, but nothing exciting.

For his main course, B had the Lamb Shank (braised lamb shank, fresh veggies, and red wine reduction with rosemary roasted potatoes). This was the highlight of B's meal, but he loves lamb so much that this isn't much of a surprise.

I ordered the Lobster Ravioli (ravioli stuffed with lobster meat in homemade lobster cream sauce). Check out that picture, does that look tasty to you? The sauce was as gloppy as it looks in the photo and there was no discernible lobster meat in the ravioli. It was some sort of fishy seafood concoction that was a far cry from chunks of lobster meat. It was definitely edible, just not $45 per person food. Trader Joe's lobster ravioli blows Odeon's out of the water.

My dessert erased the memory of the lobster glop and left a sweet taste in my mouth. The tiramisu featured spongy ladyfingers and a nice, light cocoa/espresso flavor.

B had the chocolate souffle with toasted almonds and vanilla ice cream. He gobbled it up before I could steal a bite so he'll have to tell you about it.

The piece de resistance was the check. They kindly divided it between 3 credit cards but charged us each $118. Curiously, the "total" line said "pre-tip total." I am terrible at math but I know that $45 multiplied by two (plus tax) is not $118. Since our waiter had one again disappeared, we had to hunt him down to ask about the bill. They added in 18% gratuity since we were a party of 6. I have no problem with restaurants adding in gratuity for large parties but they shouldn't do so without a warning, and the "pre-tip total" line is pretty deceiving. Luckily, we realized what was up and avoided tipping our sub-par waiter more than 18%.

Second Thoughts From B

I arrived about 20 minutes early after a very long day at work. While waiting for everyone to arrive, I escaped the rain by warming up in the nearby Starbucks and spent the time reading up on Odeon on Yelp. J often does a little homework on restaurants that we're about to visit so we know what dishes we should pay particular attention to while ordering, but this time I was the one on the Blackberry. I found myself reading one particular disgruntled post by someone who also "took advantage" (this may need to be rephrased) of the Tastings Journal offer at Odeon. The bottom line is that our experience does not appear to have been an aberration.

Most of the meal could be judged on a scale of 1 to "not a chore to finish my plate." It was kind of sad actually. Even those things that were somewhat pleasant were quite ordinary. Every flavor was one-dimensional (flat, uninteresting) and unrefined (glopped on the plate as if quantity of sauce would make up for the lack of quality). Basically, it all landed somewhere between average wedding food and work cafeteria food despite the menu descriptions being littered with words like homemade and fresh. Does any of this make sense when I talk about "flat" flavors? It is like the difference between fresh squeezed orange juice and the stuff from concentrate.

Let me sum up - MasterCard commercial style.
1 glass of champagne: free.
5 course meal: $45 + a misleading 18% tip.
1 glass of wine: free.
A meal that was as lousy as the weather: Completely forgettable.
Odeon Cafe on Urbanspoon


Victoria said...

Sorry this Tastings Journal was such a bummer. When they had Tastings Journal last year I remember it being much better, but twice for Odeon is enough for me. Maybe next month will be better :)

MC said...

Is it mean that I enjoy your posts more if you have a bad meal? Such sharp tongues on you two!