July 9, 2013
Betony, named after a meadowland herb, opened on May 14, 2013, under the direction of chef Bryce Shuman and General Manager Eamon Rockey. Both are alumni of Eleven Madison Park, where we first met Eamon. We also knew him as General Manager at Compose and Atera. Linda and I went to Betony for dinner on July 8, 2013.
On sitting down we ordered glasses of Monte Rossa Prima Cuvée Franciacorta.
This good sparkler was served with very thin grissini and parmesan wafers.
The menu is offered in grid format with six choices in each of: starters, second courses, main courses and, separately, desserts. After we made our choices, the genial sommelier came by and, at his suggestion, we ordered a bottle of 2009 Domaine Michel Magnien “Très Girard” Morey-St-Denis. Excellent.
Our first shared starter was
Marinated Trout Roe
Puffed Rice, Cucumber
This was a good finger-food starter which went well with the end of the Franciacorta. The puffed rice crisps were a nice base for the moister roe and finely diced cucumber.
The second was
Roasted Bone Marrow
Wax Beans, Savory
This was disappointing. The bone marrow was so covered with a sort of acidic mayonnaise and vegetables that we could not taste the marrow.
Then we were served a little bowl with tomato purée, gooseberry snow and tarragon. We did not see the point of this acidic intermezzo at all.
Fresh, hot caraway round breads were served along with a delicious unsalted butter and salt for those who wanted it. Excellent.
Linda’s second course was
She wrote that the gnocchi were delectably light. The sauce was like a very light corn pudding. When Eamon told her that there was Aleppo pepper in this dish, she asked that it be served on the side. On tasting she was glad it was not in the otherwise delicate dish. As I have written before, many chefs in New York seem to feel a need to add unannounced and unneeded heat to many delicate dishes. I hope that chef Shuman can resist this, as he did in my second course:
Chicken Liver Mousse
Apple, Celery, Caraway
When ordering, I was concerned that this dish would turn out to be ordinary, but it turned out to be quite interesting. Chef Shuman said in an interview:
“I try and present it in a modern way. We take the chicken fat and blend it with a little caraway shortbread and some parsley, which makes it bright green. Then we take the mousse and form it into spheres and then blend that chicken fat, parsley, and shortbread until it’s like a glaze. Then you dip it in there and it wraps around the chicken liver mousse and then you make a crumble with the chicken skin and then there’s apple chips and purée and celery. You taste it and it’s completely familiar, but it’s also a bit of a surprise. There are interesting textures. It makes it fun.”
We then shared a pasta course of
Sheep Milk Ravioli
This is a new course on the menu and was offered to us by Eamon. The foam is pecorino flavored and sparked up this very good dish.
My main course was
Peas, Easter Egg Radish
The generous serving of lobster was luscious and delicious. The peas added a nice freshness.
Grilled Short Rib
Short ribs had been cooked sous vide in their fat for two days, which resulted in fabulously tender beef and a very rich dish. The sweetbreads had excellent flavor. The romaine lettuce was crisp and balanced the richness well. This was the best meat dish Linda has had in a long time. Bravo.
Linda’s dessert was
This was a nice light summer dessert.
My dessert was
Coconut Pâte à Bombe
White Chocolate, Aged Rum
Good tropical flavors.
We were then served
Frozen Chocolate Stout Macarons
A chewy chocolate ice cream sandwich.
There were little sassafras mints.
On the way out the hostess gave us boxes to take home with three excellent bars: salted chocolate, a not too sweet nougat and a chewy sesame bar.
The meal was very enjoyable. Although some of the courses were disappointing, the five main ones were very well-conceived and well-executed. The service and pace were fine. The music was too loud, but that seems to be hard to avoid in New York nowadays. We think that Eamon and Bryce are off to a great start and expect that they will progress and do well. We expect to return and see.