During Identita’ Golose 2014, I had the pleasure to meet Bryce Shuman, the Executive Chef at Betony. Chef Bryce’s demo with Lucianone Monosilio was one of the most fun to moderate: the food was great and the chefs were entertaining and displayed not only a technical knowledge of their craft but also a great sense of humor. I confess that I almost stole the beauty plate of the nduja crostino from Chef Bryce’s hands. I am a sucker for nduja, you know… and the crostino decorated with microgreens was too tempting. For those who don’t know nduja think spreadable salame with a definite kick and a chunky pate-like texture. Yes I quasi-stole the beauty plate and I am not embarrassed in the least, it was delicious, which makes me think that Chef Bryce must be a bit calabrese after all.
When the time came to celebrate my birthday, I gave the Pirate a short list of restaurants I’d like to go to. Betony was the first on the list and the Pirate, who notoriously gets a bit grumpy when he has to make reservations, was happy to learn that there was a table for two available. I knew it would be a great birthday date! But then again, it was my 6th 30th birthday so the Pirate had better make it special.
First let’s talk about the location and decor. Even if Betony is on 57th street (conveniently close to Bergdorf, should you realize you have nothing suitable in your closet), it doesn’t feel like a stiff midtown restaurant. Generally midtown restaurants are tailored to a very specific crown made up of ladies who lunch or corporate types closing a deal. I am one of the latter type, so I should know.
Betony is different in the best possible way: you feel welcome and comfortable. The decor and the 2-level structure of the restaurant contributes to a cozy yet glamorous ambiance. You can have a quick meal on the ground floor but the top floor has the best seats of the house. Don’t ask me, just talk to Ryan Seacrest who was at the table right next to us having dinner with friends. Another component that strongly contributes to the experience is the wonderful service: attentive but not intrusive. You get the feeling that the employees are happy and proud to work at Betony.
Now let’s talk about the food, shall we? The menu is concise and divided in hors d’ouvres, appetizers and main courses featuring seasonal ingredients. Aside from a great Manhattan and a pear champagne cocktail, we started with the blue corn croquette and the lobster roll. The appetizers were the radicchio tardivo salad, the grain salad and the Brussels sprouts. As main courses, we ordered lobster with blood orange and tarragon for me and the special truffle pasta for the Pirate. Finally dessert: the apple and the rice desserts. The food at Betony is beautiful as you would expect from a Michelin starred restaurant, but it is also creative, absolutely delicious and fun to eat. Starting with the hors d’ouvres especially the savory lobstery version of pirouette cookies, and the radicchio salad which rightfully looks like a flower, to finish with the most generous shaving of truffle we’ve ever seen, the meal was spectacular. A special mention to the cocktails and the desserts that are as creative and delicious as the rest of the menu.
Those of you who are familiar with the Lemonade25 household know that I am the cheerleader but the really tough critic is actually the Pirate. For him to declare that a restaurant is good it’s quite a feast. He declared that the meal at Betony was “one of the best he’s had” and I have to agree, along with La Madia in Licata, Sicily, where we were pampered by chef Pino Cuttaia, Carlo Cracco’s namesake restaurant in Milan and Pier Chic in Dubai, this was one of my top 5 favorite meals.
I can’t wait for Baby Lemonade to be old enough to enjoy grown up meals in fancy restaurants. Betony will be one of the first we’ll take her to.