Return to Odessa
Brunch is now more a recovery from book clubs than night clubs, but the original venue remains
Restaurant Title: Odessa
Address: 14, Dame Court, Dublin 2
Phone: (01) 670 7634
If like me your hangovers originate in book clubs rather than nightclubs these days then the next statement might shock you. It’s almost 20 years since brunch came to Dublin. The sitcom Friends was new when Odessa Restaurant opened in 1995. This was not a coincidence. Until then restaurants had sit-up-straight chairs and tables. Suddenly there were armchairs and couches for lounging. Sunday morning had a place to curl up and be stroked better, with newspapers, maple syrup, smoked ham and a side of cubed chips they called home fries.
I wasn’t anyone’s mother the last time I did brunch in Odessa. So it’s thrilling to be setting out in winter sun away from the porridge-splattered bedlam of home to meet two friends. The surprise about the brunch here is nothing has changed. Downstairs from the tall-windowed restaurant in the clubby den below there’s a bomb-shelter feeling. So much has come and gone above our heads and this comfy cave has withstood the rumbles.
Extracting yourself from the people-swallowing leather armchairs still requires a full body workout. The staff are still cooler than me. And the 20-somethings, who were small children when this place first opened, still settle in for long leisurely inhalations of eggy carbs, meat, salt, fat and sugar.
We’ve picked the three classic Odessa brunch dishes: eggs Benedict, huevos rancheros and French toast with smoked ham and maple syrup. There’s nothing grown-up or innovative about all this nursery food. It’s tasty. It’s hot and it hits all the right spots. Jeanne dreams of the huevos rancheros on certain mornings. They come with perfectly sliced green chillis, guacamole and tangy crème fraiche along with chicken chunks wrapped with melted cheese.
Gerry’s impressed with his home fries which are just the right amount of crisp and not too oily. My French toast looks a little basic but does what’s required. It’s three large Jenga-style wedges of toasted eggy bread with crusts cut off because, let’s not forget, we’re regressing here. Some folded ham sits on top and there’s a pot of maple syrup to dump over the whole artless plate.
We go for the tweedy option of teas and coffees rather than pitchers of cocktails because there’s only so far you can take the pretending to be 20 experience. On the main menu their fivers (small plates of things like chickpeas and chorizo) have become sixers, while tenner main course plates are now eleveners. It’s still terrific value. And although it has all the freshness of a Friends repeat, I’m happy Odessa is still here.
Brunch for three came to €56.35.
THE VERDICT: 7½/10 Consistently comforting brunch now officially a retro experience
Odessa, 13 Dame Court, Dublin 2,
tel: 01-670 3080
Food provenance: None
Wheelchair access: No