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Pete Wells Can’t Resist the Neon Lights of The Odeon

The Times critic gives one star to the Tribeca staple

The bar at The Odeon
The bar at The Odeon
Daniel Krieger

Tribeca staple The Odeon leaves Pete Wells wondering why he keeps returning to the more than 30-year-old restaurant, the critic writes in his latest review. The first bistro from Keith McNally, it opened in 1980, a partnership with Lynn Wagenknecht — his onetime wife — and his brother, Brian. Today, Wagenknecht owns the restaurant.

Wells quips that it’s not the nostalgia, nor Lena Dunham’s tattoo that draws him to the restaurant like a moth to a flame. Instead, it’s safe and trustworthy dishes like steak frites, and frisée and lardons in warmed vinaigrette. Here is Wells on some of his Odeon favorites:

Whether roast chicken qualifies as an underdog is debatable, but the Odeon does a fine job with it and sends it to the table with root vegetables and a simple jus.

A better sleeper candidate is the omelet. Who goes to a restaurant for an omelet? I do, if it’s the one at the Odeon, which tastes like real eggs and is a little puffy but never looks as if it is trying out for a role as a balloon in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Wells orders outside the classics so you don't have to:

Anything out of the ordinary I approach with caution. ‘Spicy chicken dumplings’ turn out to be Buffalo chicken wontons with a blue cheese dipping sauce. This is every bit as wrong as it sounds. I ate one with the grim consolation of knowing I’d gotten exactly what I deserved.

His review follows Jacob Bernstein’s 1800-word essay on the storied restaurant which the Times published earlier this year that highlights the restaurant's revival, thanks to the Conde Nast move to One World Trade Center. That The Odeon is predictable remains the draw: "I go there to feel restored, to act sane for a while, and to finish my meal with a crème brûlée that’s exactly what I expect." One star.

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