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Sep 21, 2012 08:22 PM

Odeon - Still Great After All These Years...

We had an appointment in Union Square this afternoon, and afterward my wife and I went to Odeon for an early dinner.

We've been going to Odeon off and on for a long time, maybe 20 years or so, and we were once again impressed with how well Odeon has maintained its very high level of quality. If I recall correctly, Odeon was either the first, or certainly among the first, of the quality/destination restaurants to open in Tribeca. This was before the area was even known as Tribeca, and at that time it was pretty much a wasteland.

When Odeon opened, it attracted crowds, mostly the glitterati of the time, but Odeon delivered on service and quality of food. As the years have rolled by, Odeon still delivers and is still worth a visit. Very much so.

My wife, Maureen, had the heirloom tomato salad as an appetizer and a cheese omelet as her main course. I had the frisee salad with a poached egg to start, and then had the hangar steak. Hardly ground-breaking stuff, but, my oh my, was it good. Maureen went for the omelet because she had it on our previous visit, a few months ago, and was still thinking about it.

I feel the same way about that terrific frisee salad. I've had that salad, with the poached egg, every time I've visited in the past 20 or more years, and that poached egg has been warm and runny every single time. Yum. Again, Yum.

I went with the hangar steak because of how much I have enjoyed it in the past, but I thought long and hard about getting the corn ravioli instead. Hangar steak to me is a perfect bistro meal (which is what was the deciding factor for me), and, as usual, it not only didn't disappoint, it was terrific. Medium-rare, it had good chew and great steak taste. I could eat that thing every night.

Service was top-notch, as usual, and we thoroughly enjoyed our bottle of California Chardonnay. Odeon still has the good sense to provide an ice bucket filled with ice water, placed near the diner, so that you can pour our own if you wish.

It is a real pleasure to be able to report that there is this ongoing oasis of dining and drinking pleasure, even after all this time.

You could do a lot worse than making a reservation at Odeon and stopping in for a very enjoyable visit.

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  1. I like their country salad with the lardons in it. The fries they often put too much salt. They always have good oysters. And while it's warm outside they have the ice cream cart in front.
    Odeon is a neighborhood icon.

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodwhisperer

      No to mention their generous portion of chocolate mousse!

    2. Thanks for your report! As I recall, Tribeca was already so called in the early 70s. Do you remember differently?

      12 Replies
      1. re: Pan

        I've been going to Odeon pretty much since it opened (i.e., a lot longer than "the past 20 or so years"). (God, the implications of that fact make me miserable.) And my recollection is that the neighborhood it was in was already "Tribeca" by then.

        1. re: Sneakeater

          Tribeca means "Triangle Below Canal," and I believe I have it labeled as such in a map from the 50s. I'll have to look for it.

          1. re: Pan

            If you can find that earlier than the early-mid-'70s, I'll be surprised.

            My recollection is that the "Tribeca" wasn't invented until the Real Estate Industry decided to market that area as residential (which Odeon's opening was a consequence of -- not a cause of). I think that happened in the '70s. Before that, as I recall, the area was called (if anything) the Lower West Side.

            1. re: Sneakeater

              I looke dit up off wiki. it says.

              " In the early 1970s, a couple of years after artists in SoHo were able to legalize their live/work situation, artist and resident organizations in the area to the south, known then as Washington Market or simply the Lower West Side, sought to gain similar zoning status for their neighborhood.

              A group of Lispenard Street artist/residents living on tax block number 210, directly south of Canal Street between Church Street and Broadway, in an area now part of the landmarked Tribeca Historic District, joined the effort. Just as the members of the SoHo Artists Association called their neighborhood "SoHo" after looking at a City Planning map which marked the area as "South of Houston" (city planners had been casually using the word "SoHo" as well), these Lispenard Street residents likewise employed a City Planning map to describe their block.

              Lispenard Street, a single block immediately below Canal Street, is wide on the Church Street side but is narrower at Broadway. Thus, it appears as a triangle on City maps, not like a rectangle as most city blocks are depicted. The Lispenard Street residents decided to name their group the Triangle Below Canal Block Association, and, as activists had done in SoHo, shortened the group’s name to the Tribeca Block Association.

              A reporter covering the zoning story for The New York Times came across the block association’s submission to City Planning, and mistakenly assumed that the name Tribeca referred to the entire neighborhood, not just one block. Once the “newspaper of record” began referring to the neighborhood as Tribeca, it stuck. This was related by former resident and councilmember for the area, Kathryn Freed, who was involved in the 1970s Tribeca zoning effort."

              1. re: bifpocaroba

                And, just to close the circle, Odeon opened in 1980 (if I remember right).

              2. re: Sneakeater

                I agree, It was called Tribeca back in the 70's. It was also called Washington Market, as back in the 70's to early 80's you still had several dairy suppliers i.e. Land of Lakes etc.
                There were not too many restaurants there in the 70's and early 80's. There was Teddy's for Italian as well as Ponte's. There was Riverrun, 1 Hudson, Hamburger harry's, Market Diner, Ponte's , Capsouto Freres being two that are still here, and Odeon of course. There was also How'w Bayou, Tommy Tangs. For drinks there was Mickey's, One's Mudd Club. There still isn't a good Chinese restaurant in Tribeca.

                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  In the early 70s, Tribeca was scary. My memory (as a 7-year-old or so, mind you) was that there was almost nothing there but warehouses, and when we walked to the subway from a friend's place near the river on Vestry St. late at night, the only people out were bums (we didn't call them homeless people in those days). I remember a Thai restaurant moving in near there and being good for some time, but that was later, probably in the 80s. Hudson on or near Vestry, I think.

                  1. re: Pan

                    This thread brings back memories. I got my first job downtown in the late '80s. One my first day of work, the partner I worked for took me to lunch at Odeon. It was my first meal of many there. Have not been back in a while. I need to go next time I'm downtown.

                    Hey foodwhisper, is the Teddy you refer to the same as El Teddy? The one that used to have the liberty crown motif? If it is, when did they change from Italian to Mexican? Used to go there for after work drinks.

                    Wasn't the first high end dining place in the area Montrachet? I loved that place. Corton which is now in the space will never measure up in my mind.

                    1. re: Bkeats

                      Depends on whether you count Capsouto Freres.

                      1. re: Sneakeater

                        I like Capsuoto Freres but I never would have put them in the same category. I viewed CF as much more casual. First time I went to Montrachet was for a closing dinner in one of their private rooms. A friend had taken me out to dinner at CF before. Totally different experiences. Been to both many times. I think about CF as a casual place to go for a weekend meal. Montrachet on the other hand was my wife's favored anniversary dinner place.

                        1. re: Bkeats

                          Hey I don't disagree with you. I'll bet some people would. But not me.

                          1. re: Bkeats

                            Not exactly casual - it has the friendly formality of a classic French bistro with a proud proprietor and his wife. But not a high-end place, either, so I get what you mean.