The Odeon: McNally’s First Born
The Odeon is a culinary landmark. Settled on the same West Broadway corner in Tribeca for over 25 years, the Odeon is a remarkably consistent bistro that has managed to maintain its hotspot status since the early 1980s. It’s bright red neon sign blazes ‘CAFETERIA’ onto the avenue, yet this refined and relaxed mainstay by no means resembles one.
Tables occupied by couples, families, business partners, and old friends are crowded into the warm bustling space. A large wooden bar is separated off to the left and is packed with a neighborly group enjoying frothy glasses of beer and over-loaded plates of crispy golden fries. The main dining room is cavernous and traditional with soaring ceilings, antique lamps, and vintage prints. I was lucky enough to go during the holiday season when Christmas lights and wreathes adorned the solid wood beams.
Expect classic, consistent, and well-executed bistro food. Appetizers include french onion soup, steak tartare, and a warm goat cheese salad, while the entrees offer a heaping bacon cheeseburger, steak frites, slow-cooked cod, a croque monsieur, and roast chicken. The Odeon does not pretend to create inspired innovative dishes that play with unusual flavor combinations or jest with acrobatic presentation; instead, The Odeon focuses on what it knows and what it knows how to do successfully. The croque monsieur was substantial, meaty, just greasy enough to satisfy, and topped off with a kick of dijon mustard – essentially, this is a croque monsieur done right. Similarly, the burger was a luscious and decadent mess. Huge and heaping, it spilled out on all sides with tender meat, generous mounds of Roquefort, and crispy fresh bacon.
You really just can’t go wrong here – this is French comfort food to the extreme with few bobbles and many success stories. The Odeon’s enduring legacy speaks to its popularity – 25 years in Tribeca? That’s a lifetime in the brutal New York dining scene, as we all know. This classy and classic go-to spot is ideal for a casual night out, dinner with your parents, a not-too-out-there dining experience for out-of-towners that still rocks the New York ‘scene,’ and a Sunday brunch where heaping plates of satisfying food is the only cure for the night before’s shenanigans.