A Beacon

The Odeon, a beacon for Manhattan night crawlers since the early 1980's, may be the most consistent restaurant ever to put down roots south of 14th Street. It has always delivered solid bistro cuisine in an attitude-free atmosphere, even when it was the very definition of hip. It makes a strong first impression when the waiter greets diners with a hunk of chewy, rustic French bread and a small dish of black olives seasoned with lemon and lime zest. The menu is simple, with appetizers like a classic American shrimp cocktail rubbing shoulders with frisee aux lardons and onion soup. You expect to find a hangar steak with french fries, and there it is, along with trout amandine and a somewhat unusual grilled pork tenderloin with broccoli rabe, faro and bourbon sauce. Desserts run to homey American classics, like chocolate pudding, or bistro standbys like profiteroles. It may well be that in its 20 years of existence, the Odeon has never served a bad meal, and that's saying something.  by William Grimes