The Odeon: Bright Lights, Small Appetite

Pants at a Glance
  • scene: Tribeca families and people on dates
  • sip: Wine, specialty cocktails
  • savor: French fries...
  • sit: This is a place for locals really; it is not remarkable enough to bring out of towners, its better suited as a go-to when you can't decide where else to go and are not in the mood for any specific type of cuisine
  • spend: $$
  • address: 145 W Broadway (between Duane St & Thomas St)
  • phone number: (212) 233-0507
  • website:
Jay McInerney is my favorite author, and Bright Lights Big City of course made a massive impression on me.  The Odeon figures heavily in the book, as a late-night refuge in a still gritty Tribeca, where people met up and did lots of glamorous cocaine in the bathrooms.  The artwork on the copy of the book that I read, of course, was the neon sign of the Odeon, which to me seemed like a beacon of coolness and a symbol of a time in NYC that I was too young and suburban to be part of. The sign for the Odeon is still as bright as ever, but is less of a beacon of coolness and more of a relic of times past.
I am also a huge Keith McNally fan, and I tend to buy into whatever mood he sets.  I know that he is no longer controller of Odeon, and that is why to me it seemed a bit like McNally-lite. His influence can still be felt in certain aspects of the menu, but overall, it is clear that Keith has left the building. My last visit was on a Friday night, right in the middle of a Noreaster.  My stir-crazy friends and I decided to keep our dinner plans, and the intention was a catch-up session over french fries and red wine.  (This was after I said NO to their first choice of a gluten-free restaurant). I got out of my cab and pulled up my hood, running towards the red Odeon sign which promised a respite from the rain and wind, and a stiff drink.  I was greeted by a huge table of parents and screaming kids. Tad Allagash would be appalled. It seemed to officially symbolize that Bolivian Marching Powder had given way to diaper rash.
After being seated, the warm lighting and warming red wine did their trick on this most miserable of nights, but the food did not. We made the mistake of being too ambitious with our selections, and instead consumed 2 orders of fries.  Odeon is definitely a place to KISS- Keep it Simple Stupid.  I chose to forgo my usual chicken entree because of the simple fact that I always order chicken, and tried to force down some fish, as did my girlfriend.  The fish was sort of white and and mushy and sweet, and just not nearly as appealing as the cones of fries.  In fact, I guess, the fries could be McNally’s legacy, because they are just as awesome as those at Pastis and Balthazar.  We might have had dessert too, I don’t really remember,which sort of sums up the food at Odeon.  The basics on the menu and the atmosphere still make Odeon a viable option for a casual dinner. But at the end of the day, when a restaurant is associated with a book where everyone is on coke, can you really count on the food?

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