41 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
I’m going to take you through my meal at Betony the way I wish I experienced it: aka. without the pretentious crowd and stuffy furnishing. More on this later. If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I’m not typically one to chase Michelin stars. Food that excites me is food that is undiscovered like Lan Larb or The Bao (though both have gotten pretty damn popular as of late). That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy fancy food. I like fancy pants food the same way I like going to art museums. I have a deep appreciation for passion involved in cooking and the creative work chefs do. I also like to paint though, and that kind of enjoyment is totally different. ANYWAY. LAW and I went to Betony recently and I was pumped because I had only heard good things. Started by two ex-Eleven-Madison-Park chefs, Betony has been raved about on the interwebs as a creatively delicious restaurant. Oh, it also has a Michelin star.
I started with the Beach Tea (Rhum Blanc, Cranberry Kombucha, and Absinthe Verte – $15). Oh. Hot. Damn. This is my jam. It looks pretty elementary but the mixologist performed some serious alchemy with this one. It tasted deliciously fruity and was REALLY strong in the best way possible: I felt a warmness creep into my body throughout the beverage without ever feeling like I was tasting alcohol. Alchemy.
Per my friend R.P.’s recommendation, we shared the Betony take on the lobster roll ($18). I was disappointed when I saw the dish because it’s nearly 20 bucks (enough for like 7 “burgers” at Xi’an Famous Foods) yet looks like a few sticks of Chinese egg rolls. Lesson learned to never judge a book by its cover because these little rolls were bursting (BURSTING, I tell you) with essence of lobster roll. I don’t understand how so much lobster flavor was jammed into these tiny cylinders but man were they tasty. The shell of the roll was a crispy, slightly flakey pastry. The filling was magic.
We also shared the hot foie gras ($34). The foie gras comes either hot or cold, and I read that the hot version was the smoothest foie gras ever… so I got it. The foie was lightly seared, paired with a slice of pork belly, and sat in warm a tonkatsu broth with a few drops of leek oil. I wish the pork belly was just another piece of foie because it was tough (almost impossible to chew) and actually pretty bland for pork belly. The foie, on the other hand, was a little sweet, silky, and so, so creamy. The savory porky broth went hand in hand with the foie. Truly great.
LAW ordered the short rib ($46) for his entree, which unexpectedly was probably the highlight of the night (actually debatable… I loved the lobster rolls and the bread and the foie gras…). The dish was served with a piece of meat that slid right off the bone, as well as a perfectly marbled fatty cut of meat. The marbled piece was literally a perfect cut of meat. Every bite had the perfect proportion of fat and lean meat, and was meatifully delicious.
I regretfully ordered the worst dish of the night. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t great. The poached lobster ($44) was meaty and fresh and all but it tasted more like a light salad than an entree. The blood orange sauce was refreshing but I wanted more… perhaps (if you go to a fancy restaurant, you use the word ‘perhaps’) if I had been served over a bed of something more substantial I would have felt more satisfied. The satisfaction has nothing to do with portion size or feeling full (I was damn full… again, from overloading on rolls). The flavors were missing something.
Dessert is served by theme. We picked the apple strudel with cheddar ice cream ($14) because I was intrigued by cheddar ice cream. The ice cream was served as a flat plate, which looked great but wasn’t quite as satisfying as it could be. There’s a reason ice cream should be served in a ball… it melts so fast that you need more volume per bite to get a good taste of it. The flavor was subtly salty, which accentuated the fresh apples in the strudel. Good stuff nonetheless.
We took so long to decide which dessert to get, choosing between this frozen banana and chocolate themed dessert and the apple strudel, that the server gave us this extra dessert on the house. I’m so glad she did because it was SO good (and free).
Per the server’s description, the frozen banana was more like a frozen Klondike bar. The banana is apparently blended with cream, coated with some oreo, frozen, then dipped into dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. Ugh writing about this is making me crave one. It was not too sweet, bursting with banana flavor, and tempered by a slightly bittersweet chocolate. It was smooth but also crunchy from the oreos. The sauce on the side was a yuzu sauce. So simple yet so tasty. Something I will be making in my own kitchen at some point.
You know what’s not cute? This decor. I lost my appetite walking into this. I was immediately disappointed and felt like I would inevitably have a horrible dinner. Brown on brown on brown?! Everything looked so dusty and old. Very rare to find a place so un-chic in NYC. You can’t see now, but the other diners who sat next to us (we were the last to leave) were all stuffy, old, and racist (yes, racist) couples. I kept hearing whispers about things I didn’t want to hear.
Anyway, this blog is focused on the food, so I’ll just end here. The food was awesome. Yes, a little pricey, but the food is truly creative and delicious. Everything was so flavorful. Even my cocktail blew me away. Next time I’d come for drinks at the bar and order a few appetizers.