St Betty [Hong Kong]
Betty's has morphed into St Betty in an attempt to reposition the restaurant in the IFC. I liked my first meal at Betty's when it first opened but lost interest in the place after a few meals, culminating in a weekend lunch that limited me to a very boring brunch option rather than a leisurely meander through the ALC.
The new St Betty is cheffed by Shane Osbourne who gained a great reputation and two Michelin star at Pied å Terre in London. Last week I had a quick business lunch there which was so good I decided we needed to visit for a big Saturday night. The menu reads very well and it is always good for a menu to make choosing difficult, there is more than enough interest to warrant a few return trips.
The meal starts with freshly heated baguettes which are quite good. Next, "Sautéed spätzle, wold mushrooms, fresh black truffle, Taleggio cheese ($198)" which is wonderfully moreish, its so good I am actually tempted to order another portion, and wish I had ordered the main course size rather than entree! A carpaccio of venison fillet with some raw mushrooms ($198) is also wonderfully flavoured. For main courses we have a wonderfully soft piece of wagyu blade steak ($288) that has been slowed cooked and is served with a great smoky mash and mushroom grains and some steamed snapper with peas and a prawn reduction as a sauce and a lemon oil dressing ($348). Both dishes are intensely flavoured with each of the elements working well together.
We finish with some Beaufort cheese with a pear chutney ($158), and a chocolate fondant in a chestnut sauce and some ice cream ($118). Both equally well executed although it would have been nice to have a greater selection of cheese.
Verdict: this is easily some of the best French inspired classic cooking at this price point in Hong Kong, to get better you need to head up to Amber, Caprice etc. It isn't inexpensive but equally it isn't significantly more expensive than many of the chains and the food is far far better.
However, there are issues with the restaurant. It now feels more intimate with lower light levels, and the view of Kowloon is good. But the large open entrance into the IFC mall makes it feel like part of the mall so you feel like it is a more part of a shopping centre than a restaurant. They also don't have a cloakroom so coats and shopping bags rest on the back of chairs so it feels far more food court than a fine dining, big night our restaurant. Service is also not as slick as it could be despite our waiter and the sommelier being really great. The hand off from order taker to waiter to bus boy to waiter mean there are too many staff cluttering up the floor which creates a disjointed slightly chaotic impassion.
We will definitely return having really enjoyed the overall meal, I really hope they can get the format working a bit better as food that is this good doesn't need these distractions, which is probably why it had quite a number of covers open on a Saturday night. If they can do something to make it more intimate, create a bit more of a buzz this could become a difficult to book spot - a chef of this calibre deserves it.