Chefs are a notoriously fickle bunch to feed. Anyone worth their whites can sniff out undercooked
pasta at 100 yards and won’t hesitate to dress down a fellow cook (usually behind
their back) with devastating candor if the fries are frozen or the spinach
wilted. Suffice to say it’s not just their knives that are razor
So, when word gets out that local toques have been frequenting Windsor’s new Odyssey Restaurant
after-hours, my foodie feelers start tingling. When I find out that the chef,
Rudy Mihall, cut his teeth at Gramercy Tavern, spent two years in Italy and, according to
an email from Jeff Mall “won’t be under the radar much
longer”, my wheels are pretty much smoking in the rush to get there.
Nestled into the tiny space formerly occupied by L’Assiette, Odyssey has just 10
tables and a long, glowing bar that dominates the space. There’s little room to
maneuver, but proximity can have its benefits–like the ability to chum up
to your neighbors and pilfer a little nibble from their plate. Not that I’m
suggesting you do this uninvited. But when a ridiculously huge foie gras burger
comes to the table, the urge is, well, irresistible.
In the six weeks since opening, Odyssey has breezed past the nervous tension and bungling that are the hallmark of first-timers and settled
comfortably into wowing the locals. Mihall has clearly mastered the confines of his small kitchen (allowing more time for his creative coiffures) while
friend and SF restaurateur Tom Gordon manages the front
of the house.
The menu changes up daily, with house favorites like the pizza, burger and beet
tartare as staples. Despite not having a wood-fired oven, Mihall cranks out
impossibly thin and crispy pizzas, topped with arugula, pancetta and fresh
mozzarella ($13-$15). And no, he won’t tell you the secret to how he makes
them. Starters show off Mihall’s flair for the dramatic: Beet tartare
($10) with sunflower greens is a jewel-toned vision almost too pretty to
eat and chilled pea soup with poached lobster (with, get this, pickled ramps) is packed with bits of meat that
make its $12 price tag seem a bargain.
Capping off the food frenzy, you’ll want to check out the foie gras burger ($21), if
just to say you’ve done it. It’s a layer upon layer of flavor (and
cholesterol): black truffles, braised short ribs and foie gras encased by beef
sirloin. It’s not an easy thing to pull off–keeping the exterior from drying
out completely, while making sure the inside isn’t blood raw. Mihall gets it as
close to right as anyone possibly could, searing the outside and finishing the
whole affair in the oven. Roasted tomatoes and a brioche bun just add to the dedadence. Thing is, the burger’s far too large to actually fit in your mouth, so just split one round the table.
I don’t want to be responsible for any of you keeling over in coronary arrest if you brave it alone.
Dessert hasn’t quite worked itself out yet. Considering the sweet teeth of local clientele and
late(ish) hours, we’ll look forward to some creativity in this department to cap off the meal. No worries. Just ask the chef sitting at the end of the bar for a few ideas.
If you go: The spot is a little hard to find, hidden in a
far corner of the Town Green and signage is minimal. Considering the buzz, you
may want to call ahead for reservations. The restaurant has a considerable wine
list featuring many local wines, in addition to a large selection of Italian
reds and whites.
Odyssey Restaurant, 426 Emily Rose, Circle, Windsor, 707.836.7600. Open Tuesday through
Thursday, 5pm to 10pm; Friday and Saturday, 5pm to 11pm.