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Betony Review

Finally got to Betony and now I am perplexed why there has been negative/mediocre reviews because our experience was downright fantastic.

We were meeting friends but GF and I arrived early, we were promptly greeted with smiles and shown to seats at the bar where the very pleasant bartenders chanted with us a while and then helped us decide on a couple cocktails; GF had a Desert Shandy that had a wonderful tartness to it, I tried it and it was hard to stop drinking it, for me it would be a great way to get the tastebuds ready for dinner. I wanted something gin based and refreshing so I had the Ellison, very nicely made, just wish it was a bit larger (but it was in line with cocktail size of everywhere else in NYC). Brought out some wire thin breadsticks and cheddar crisps, I couldn't stop eating the breadsticks, they were proof that big flavor can come in teeny tiny packages. The bar and "bar area" are very nice, the music played was great. I can easily see the bar becoming our place to get a drink in that neighborhood.

Our friends showed up and we were seated immediately in the downstairs rear dining area just off of the bar. I really liked where we were seated, close enough to the bar area that you still get the energy from that area but removed enough that you know you are having a nice dinner.

The guys started with cocktails, the ladies with wine/Champagne. We ordered several of the snacks while we drank our drinks and chatted: potato chips (really good, wish there was more of them), marinated trout roe (my favorite), roasted bone marrow (nice presentation, good but not great flavor), fried pickled peppers (the were just okay, wasn't crazy about the tempura coating, wanted them to be crisper), crushed zucchini (second favorite, very good taste and texture). All of the snacks were beautifully plated. I think the idea of the snacks was a big success.

For dinner we really ran the gamut of choices and except for one dish we all had completely different choices. Between us we had:


Cucumber Salad - Buttermilk, Caraway Vinaigrette GF (a vegetarian) had this and said it was wonderful and refreshing, the bite of the caraway and buttermilk were a nice contrast to the cucumbers

Foie Gras Hot prep - I got to try a bite of the hot foie and it was (IMO) perfectly prepared, I would have been sad to miss this if my cold prep wasn't the homerun it was

Foie Gras Cold prep - Velvety smooth, loaded with foie gras-y goodness, paired with berries, wonderful

Marinated Sardines - Tomato, Fennel - did not get to try but the person eating it certainly seemed to be liking it : )

Main (first main)

3 of us had the lobster. It was INCREDIBLE, my favorite dish of the evening. Presented in a shallow bowl under a "blanket" of dill, a lobster "bisque" was poured in and the blanket was removed, summer beans completed the dish, the lobster was so sweet, so tender, so perfectly cooked, the bisque was so full of rich flavors, I am actually salivating thinking about it. I used my roll to soak up any liquid left in the bowl. This is the "must get" dish for the moment.

Mains (second main)

I had the Grilled Short Rib with romaine and crispy sweetbreads - I'm a sweetbread fiend and I think beef and sweetbreads are a match made in Heaven, this dish did not disappoint, the shortrib was straight forward and tasted like a shortrib should, the sweetbread was crispy (the way I like them) and plumb. Very successful dish for me.

GF had the Sheep’s Milk Ravioli w/ Eggplant and Mustard Greens - she said it was a very rich dish but well balanced due to the sweetness of the eggplant. She enjoyed it very much.

One friend had Seared Brook Trout w/ Artichokes, Lovage - did not get to try but presentation was beautiful, friend said they enjoyed it

Other friend had the Poached Black Bass w/ Tomatillo, Pine Nuts - did not get to try but presentation was beautiful, friend said the fish was perfectly cooked

I did not do dessert, I was comfortably full and didn't want to feel stuffed.

Captain - delightfully engaging, well versed on all the dishes and explained each dish in detail as it was presented (and remember we sampled almost the entire menu).

Sommelier - knowledgeable and helped guide me to two wonderful bottles that didn't break the bank (zero pressure, no attempt to up sell).

Service - spot on and as the restaurant got more and more full the attention to detail did not diminish. Water was always full, staff was always near by but not hovering.

Space - very nice, soft fabrics abound, noise in the dining area was minimal, lighting was nicely subdued but menu was still readable.

All in all a wonderful experience and I would not hesitate to return or recommend to even my most discerning friends.

Disclaimer: We were huge fans of Chef Shuman's cooking at EMP so it shouldn't surprise anyone this was such a success BUT we were not there in a friends and family capacity nor were we there as friends of the house, we have no affiliation to the restaurant, I'm just callin' it like I see it.

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  1. Glad to hear that you had a great time. I'm one of the people who had a so-so dinner experience two months ago. I'll give Betony another try. I loved my lobster prep too!

    7 Replies
    1. re: ellenost

      It will be interesting to see if your experience is better next time, maybe just some start up hiccups? Or you could go and get just the lobster thereby increasing the chances of a succesful visit (I'm joking).

      1. re: Spiritchaser

        The lobster dish was exquisite (at the EMP level)! The desserts were excellent too! I think the problem was more with the service (maybe I expected too much, but the restaurant was open for more than a month so the opening night jitters should have been worked out; very glad to hear that they now have corrected service issues). I'll probably try Betony again in September since it's 2 blocks from my office.

        1. re: ellenost

          Made a reservation for mid-September, and just like EMP and The NoMad, only 5:30 was available which is okay since it's 2 blocks from my office. I am confident that the issues I encountered back in early June have been corrected, and look forward to my dinner at Betony.

          1. re: ellenost

            I am very interested in seeing your review. We were both delighted and saddened by the stellar review for NYT; delighted because Betony really really deserved it, saddened because reservations are already harder to get!

            1. re: Spiritchaser

              Loved my dinner tonight at Betony. Service was excellent: friendly, knowledgeable and attentive. Betony definitely deserves its excellent reviews. Food was delicious too. Loved the foie gras bonbons rolled in cashews; the chicken liver mousse that was probably the most decadent chicken liver mousse; the lobster with beans that was lovely to behold the service and a very generous and sweet portion; the Italian hot chocolate that was extremely rich; and the chocolate brownie. Bread service was excellent too: warm tasty roll with softened butter and fleur de sel. My soft cocktails were lovely (citrus and ginger).

              Bottom line: had such a wonderful dinner that I booked my return visit to Betony via OpenTable before I even left the restaurant. Lucky me since Betony is only 2 blocks from my office.

                1. re: Monica

                  When I left (7:30 ish), they were about 3/4 full.

    2. Thanks for the write-up.

      We also enjoyed the potato chips, but found the shortribs to be bland.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        I thought the short ribs were nicely done, not the best shortribs I've ever had but solid and worked well with the sweetbreads. Was it the same prep when you tried them?

        1. re: Spiritchaser

          Yes, it was.

          There was something off about the way the shortribs were prepped. A bit vapid, and not tender the way shortribs should be (but not tough, either). And the romaine was completely extraneous -- like a large parsley from the 80s that got time warped into 2013.

      2. NYT/Pete Wells gave Betony three stars in today's review.

        Congrats to them.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ipsedixit

          shoot, I should have visited there earlier..

        2. Bartender chant

          Ohhhm, Ohhhm, Wine, Beeer, Ohhhm, Ohhhm

          Dona eis requiem

          Just having fun. Sounds like a great place. Must try it out.

          1. Had dinner there last night. We started with the foie gras bonbons. There were 4 big ones so it was plenty for the 2 of us to share. Really rich and delicious. For appetizers we had gnocchi and mackerel. The gnocchi were tasty but the mackerel was outstanding. The chicken was great but all breast, no leg meat. At least it wasn't dry, but it would have been nice to have some dark meat too. The short rib was the best short rib I have ever eaten. Phenomenal. The sweetbread with it added a bit of textural contrast, but the flavor was overshadowed by the intense beefiness of the rib. The charred bit of meat on the bone added another dimension. Loved it. We shared the rice pudding for dessert. Not your standard rice pudding, but a wonderful blend of tastes and textures. The bread and butter were excellent, and the wine list is impressive, with many selections in the $40 to $60 range. We had a Ribeira Sacra for $46 that we liked a lot. They have a long list of beers too. This place is so good I just fear that it will become impossible to get a res. I should also mention a warm welcome and gracious, attentive service.

            5 Replies
            1. re: rrems

              I was at Betony also last night, and I posted my review above. I definitely will try the short rib when I return in 4 weeks (already made a reservation).

              1. re: ellenost


                Have you been to Rouge Tomate? I think you would also enjoy it. Similar in type and quality of food, and price level.

                1. re: rrems

                  No I haven't, but thanks for the recommendation.

                  1. re: ellenost

                    FWIW - I am no fan of RT except for their drinks/bar and although it's been a while since our meal there I'm having a hard time making a correlation between RT and Betony.

                    1. re: Spiritchaser

                      Maybe it's improved since you were there? I went for the first time only 2 months ago, then went back again last month. The correlation I am making is that it is innovative American food of high quality, with some interesting and unusual flavor combinations, in a comfortable setting with great service and an excellent wine list. It was the first thing that came to my mind while we were dining at Betony, and my partner felt the same way.

            2. I made a reservation for 2 at 7:00PM on Columbus Day just now (20 minutes ago). They *are* open on Columbus Day, right? And not serving some special overpriced menu I hope...

              Being in Hong Kong seems to make these kinds of "get up in the morning and go to Opentable" reservations a bit easier to accomplish, heh.

              1 Reply
              1. re: kyph0515

                I am not aware of any restaurant offering a special menu or not open in celebration of Columbus Day.

              2. Not surprisingly Betony delivered last night for the 4 of us. No issues with the service whatsoever. Elegance level a bit higher than expected overall but we felt comfortable. Dishes are on the small side and its hard to get away with just an app and a main. Not easy to share dishes here like we normally like to do

                The bonbons were good tho the salt from the cashews was a little too dominant. Loved the Chickpea Panisse. Fried pickles were surprisingly a bit greasy but pleasant nonetheless. Beet amuse on the salty side surprisingly as well. I really liked the Gnocchi with corn - smokey, soft and tasty. Chicken liver mouse was fine.

                Short Ribs - A Revelation! Best of show. Tender and full of flavor. It takes 2 days to make them and we jokingly informed the waitress that we have plans tomorrow and cant wait that long. Lobster dish was very tasty as well, but very light (to us at least) ... terrific sauce. We skipped dessert. Overall, an enjoyable meal but its not the type of place and location we would come to.

                1. We went for dinner the other night, midweek, to Betony. A short summary:

                  We had a very good meal. The short ribs, as mentioned, are simply superb. One of the best pieces of meat I have tried in quite some time. The lobster main dish, served in a bowl with a somewhat SEAsian flavor profile, was good - but not outstanding. Portion size was just adequate. For starters we had the cold foie gras salad, which was excellent, and the chicken liver pate/ball. That too was very good. The rolls that they serve, brought to you one at a time on a somewhat overwrought serving platter, are excellent. From what we saw that was the only bread offered, small very well prepared rye rolls. One at a time; with the bread server serving sporadically.

                  Service was generally very good. Yet, a principal complaint was timing of the meal. All tables were taken, and the private room downstairs was filled, as would be expected, and the time for food to arrive was just too long. Yes, it is fine dining but we had a good 25+ min wait until our starters arrived, and both our starters were cold dishes. The wait for our main dishes, we also thought took too long. The managers are aware of the issue, it appears. When we mentioned the long wait they were not surprised and tried to remedy it forthwith. Dessert too, again we both ordered "cold" plates (the cheese was excellent, if really very small for the price) also took some time.

                  The sommelier is great. As requested he selected a great bottle of sparkling wine for us. There is enough staff for sure, yet getting water refilled seemed to be an issue. We thought the bar area was very pretty, the rest of the restaurant just Ok. They obviously left a lot of the design from Pushkin in place.

                  In sum, a couple of dishes were superb, others very good. They may need a bit more time to be running at full steam.

                  1. I had another excellent dinner at Betony last night. Although I had planned to order only the foie gras bonbons and the short rib, once I saw the new autumn menu, I also ordered a half portion of the lasagne with squash and the pumpkin dessert.

                    I requested to be seated on the main floor away from the bar area which was honored. After a long day at work I'm looking to have a peaceful dinner; don't want the "energy" from the bar. Service was very friendly, attentive and knowledgeable. The staff was very helpful when I was trying to decide what to order (the online menu is not yet current) since I was torn among the short rib, lobster, duck, and lasagne. I almost ordered 2 mains since they all looked delicious. My captain suggested a half portion of the lasagne which was perfect.

                    Foie gras bonbons continue to be a great treat. The lasagne is deconstructed and delicious. The short rib deserves all of its praise. Plan to return to Betony soon to try the duck (and the new lobster). The pumpkin dessert was delicious!--pumpkin cream, oatmeal ice cream and molasses. Also ordered the Italian hot chocolate that will satisfy all chocolate lovers.

                    Lucky to have Betony only 2 blocks from my office!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ellenost

                      I had the new lobster dish this week and it was excellent. Tasted my partner's duck and liked it a lot too. I agree about the pumpkin dessert. Really good.The oyster appetizer and the beef tongue were also great. The sommelier was once again very helpful with my wine choices.

                    2. This is my favorite restaurant in Manhattan. I have eaten through the entire menu. Every dish is distinctive and flavorful. Also, the price is very reasonable ... Get to it before the prices go up!

                      1. Another excellent dinner last night at Betony. Crazy day at the office, and was afraid I'd need to cancel my dinner plans at the last minute, but fortunately everything was "okay" by the time I left my office (lucky that Betony is only 2 blocks away). Definitely needed to relax.

                        The hostess at the front desk was so welcoming that I immediately began to relax. Seated at what has become my "usual" table. Trying to decide between 2 delcious sounding cocktails until one of the staff (who remembered that I enjoy German Rieslings), pointed me to an excellent Spatlese--will save the cocktails for next time.

                        Service at Betony continues to shine and its EMP pedigree is definitely apparent. All of the staff is not only friendly and attentive, but extremely knowledgeable about the components of each dish.

                        Started off with the marinated scallops, horseradish and sorrel which was a lovely and delicate way to begin my dinner.

                        Next was one of my favorites: chicken liver mousse with apple and celery. Sad to hear that this dish will be leaving the menu soon. Will need to try the cold foie gras next time.

                        Main course was the excellent (and generous portion) of the poached lobster, chestnuts and spiced bisque (not too spicy for anyone concerned).

                        Great to see Jeff Taylor (formerly from EMP) as Betony's new wine director. Also glad to see the expansion of their wine list to include more German Rieslings. Had a 1/2 bottle of a lovely (almost floral) Auslese.

                        For dessert I ordered a new dish that isn't yet listed on their website that was a perfect way to end a perfect dinner: passion fruit with ginger cake and cilantro (yes--it works beautifully; loved the interplay between the sweet and savory). Also ordered another of my favorites: the Italian hot chocolate.

                        By the time I left after close to 3 hours, Betony was totally full. Betony definitely deserves its accolades. Hope it wins the JBA for best new restaurant!