For Dubliners of a certain generation, Odessa has long proven itself to be one step ahead of the crowd in offering an alternative way of eating out. When this funky lounge-restaurant opened in 1994, it single-handedly introduced the brunch concept to hungover hipsters, where the kick-ass Bloody Marys and piles of Sunday papers were as important as the poached eggs and hollandaise.
Indeed this Dublin restaurants food has always been just one element of the offering here as opposed to the main draw – which perhaps explains why the restaurant remains popular 15 years on, despite cooking which has been reliably inconsistent over the years.
The two retro-styled dining rooms have aged well, with their clever lighting fixtures, fawn-toned leather chairs and, downstairs, low tables on which to spread your papers and sofas in which to settle. These days, the hipsters are more likely to head upstairs to the Odessa club, where the same lounge-vibes, sharp cocktails and casual eating are on offer.
The restaurant proper continues to find new ways to draw a new generation of diners. Their innovative Fivers menu, for example, offers tapas-sized portions of Mediterranean-style dishes, all at €5 each. Choose well (a chorizo, red wine and chickpea stew perhaps, or a deep-flavoured chicken leg confit) and you could eat very well for just €10 or €15 a head. Together with the complementary 'Soul Food' offering a comforting main course for a tenner (a lamb tagine, perhaps, or fish pie)
they are available alongside the à la carte every evening except Saturdays, when the main menu offers the likes of Asian-influenced salads, nachos, burgers and quesadillas alongside simply cooked fresh fish and meat dishes.
On the downside, the winelist offers little choice by the glass (house wines only - two whites and two reds) and, with most bottles in the over €30 category, it seems out of tune with the accessibly priced menu.
*The Odessa Club (www.odessaclub.ie) is a Bar with screening facilities on the second floor, and is affiliated with Societe De Kring (www.kring.nl) in Amsterdam; wine tasting dinners are held regularly.