21 Feb 2008

Truth and Beauty

'It was not unusual for Peter Langan to be found comatose beneath one of the tables, having disposed of more bottles of Champagne before lunch than most people could consume in a week...'
ODIN'S, DEVONSHIRE Street, a culinary tomb you can tour. A venue preserved in aspic to honour Peter Langan, ‘impoverished Irishman waiter’ who ‘went to work there then married the boss's daughter’. For plenty of money you can hire a table amidst the eclectic, oppressive collage of statues, screens and fascinating canvases which he chose. The story goes that many of these were bartered by penniless, hungry artists.
Sadly you will not find much artistry on the plate, however. In fact the £33 set menu (plus 15P/C service) plunders the doldrums, only occasionally hinting at was achieved once within the slightly bohemian grandeur.
Dishes can be tedious (Cauliflower Soup), ugly (Braised Hare) and ‘mastichistic’... My Port licked Puy Lentils outshone the tacky Panfried Pigeon Breast lounging above.
The wine list lacks lightness of touch too, forcing relatively cost conscious consumers into unlovely corners. I explored South African, Rupert & Rothschild Classique '05, a classy enough Cabernet-Merlot touched-up like a corrected casserole by oenologist Michel Rolland. Too strident a match for a European lunch at linen.
Airy Coconut Crème Brûlée was the highlight as prefaced by the Maitre’d: "Are you ready for the best part?".
Odin's is not odious, just lacking perspective. Resting, lethargically on its gilded laurels. Guilty of over-charging through the gilted attractions of Hockney, Procktor, fading charm and too many doilies.
Odin's - 27 Devonshire Street,London W1G 6PL
T. 020 7935 7296
Outside, by The Mandeville Hotel, the 'Arctic Monkeys' clad in plus fours bundled into a mini bus, bound for the Brit Awards. Afterwards, a drink at raffish Papageno, Covent Garden, before watching Felicity Kendal in Noel Coward's 'Vortex' (excellent third act) was a memorable experience. Themed as an opera house, people sit in damp, begrimed 'boxes'. The pornographic Gents evoked the brothel house in Pompeii.

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