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Aug 6, 2013 07:41 AM

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.