Odyssey : Expectations vs. reality

Odyssey is a hybrid concept of a bistro and a pub, having both a bar menu and a bistro menu. (Photo: Odyssey Facebook)
The past few months have been quite a journey, with visiting restaurants and evaluating their overall performance. The more research and recommendations I go through, the more knowledgeable I get about the new concepts and restaurants opening up in Amman. اضافة اعلان

Sometimes, it gets pretty challenging to see the positive in certain experiences, since only a few restaurants can provide a great overall experience. I never inform the restaurant about the review prior to the visit (I do sometimes at the end of the meal); this way, the review can be as genuine and honest as possible.

(Photo: Jordan News/ Zeid Odeh)

After multiple recommendations and Instagram posts this week, I decided to go to Odyssey and try out this hybrid concept of a bistro and a pub. In technical terms, Odyssey means a long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune.

To clarify both concepts, a pub is an establishment that serves filling and hearty meals and drinks, which differs from a bar that serves drinks and food, mainly fried items, from appetizers to snacks. A bistro is a European-style restaurant that serves food and drinks, generally just wine and beer. The food options at a bistro are a little more upscale than those at a bar or a pub.

Having both in one place can be a little confusing until you experience the restaurant and see the two menus on offer.

As per the advice of several people, I called in advance to book a table since this place gets packed on weekends, and it is hard to make a reservation. When I got to the restaurant, the reservation had been lost, but they were still nice enough to seat me. Perhaps that is what they mean by the changes of fortune during the voyage.

(Photo: Jordan News/ Zeid Odeh)

The restaurant’s overall ambiance was that of an underground pub, with dimmed lights, music, sport TV screens, stools, and typical tables. It also has a small terrace with some greenery on the sides. With the music, the sports and the number of people talking all at once, it can get a little noisy at times.

The menus at Odyssey are a bar menu that consists of salads, sandwiches, and mains, and a bistro menu, which is a little more upscale, with food items that include salads, appetizers, pasta, and mains. You can order from both menus at the same time.

I tried to dig deeper into the vision and the reason for the two concepts running parallel to each other and why the bar menu has a happy hour till 6 pm and the bistro does not, yet that was a dead end. This leads me to the friendliness and competence level of the service operation, which I was not very impressed with.

(Photo: Jordan News/ Zeid Odeh)

Food, service, and ambiance are the three main focus areas in any restaurant. No restaurant can depend solely on one of those areas and lose focus on the rest. Also, every single person that walks into any restaurant should be treated not as a customer but as a guest.

There is no cocktail menu, since Odyssey has a pub and bistro concept. Nonetheless, they have all types of spirits and beer both on tap and in bottles. However, if you need a cocktail, they would be more than happy to make you one.

Jumping to the food order, I picked some items from both menus. I ended up ordering the quinoa salad, tuna tataki, chicken skewers, brisket sandwich, dynamite shrimp, and fried mozzarella balls.

(Photo: Jordan News/ Zeid Odeh)

Even if expected in restaurants nowadays, the quinoa salad had a little twist, with the caramelized walnuts and mango sauce. However, the salad lacked a little personality and some love in the dressing. Quinoa can be pretty hard to consume without a good amount of dressing.

The tuna tataki is a simple Japanese dish that combines delicate, gently seared tuna with soy sauce mixed with citrus or yuzu; this sauce is called ponzu. The tuna had a good amount of spices on it, which gave it a little kick. The slaw next to it was a great addition. Yet, again, it needed more love with the dressing.

The chicken skewers are an excellent option for sharing; they are grilled and served with a sweet chili sauce. The overall taste of the dish was good, but the chicken spent a little extra time cooking, and it was a tad dry.

Even though the dynamite shrimp is a popular option everywhere, they serve it here with a wasabi mayonnaise as a condiment on the side, which is a little outside of the box of the typical dynamite shrimp dish if you are looking for an extra kick.

The deep-fried mozzarella balls are served with homemade marinara sauce. The sauce was beautifully seasoned and well prepared; it can get a little tricky trying to make a proper tomato sauce.

(Photo: Jordan News/ Zeid Odeh)

The brisket in the sandwich was very tender, indicating that it had been cooked for a long period of time. It was served with a sauce and pickles and a side of fries; flavorful and straightforward. I believe they can do a little bit better on the bread type for this sandwich; I would recommend ciabatta, to bring the overall taste of the sandwich to a higher level. The accompanied fries were neither served with any condiments aside nor were they seasoned at all.

As per the servers’ explanation, they offer brownies and fried bananas for dessert if you are looking for a sweet bite to end your meal. I did not go for dessert this time because it was not tempting to consume all the calories.

After hearing all the recommendations for this place, the overall experience at Odyssey was not up to what I had in mind. It could still be a good place for a drink during happy hour and a great place to gather with friends if the focus is mainly on the beverage. Yet, all in all, I did not feel that the value for money was met here.

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