Betony Restaurant

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C’mon, Pete (as in Wells, New York Times). Three Stars? For Chickpea Panisse, Mangalitsa Ham, Broccoli (snack, $11), or Foie Gras, Hot or Cold under a crisp kale leaf (appetizer, $28), or Poached Golden Tile Fish, Celery Potato (main course, $28). Wells characterizes Betony’s cuisine as “fussed over but it isn’t fussy.” With this introduction would it surprise you if we didn’t agree?

Betony (a mint herb) has gotten some press because the chef worked with Daniel Humm at 11 Madison Park for a number of years. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, “I know 11 Madison Park and this is no 11 Madison Park.” Our experience was very mediocre, in both food, service and attitude. When Eleanor called for the reservation a month in advance, she was told, “There are no slots available that night (a Tuesday).” Eleanor said that she thought Betony might hold some back, and that if need be, would call some friends for a favor. The reservationist put her on hold and came back, amazingly, with a slot that had just opened up. Our party of four was seated upstairs, in a very comfortable setting.

Our Grey Goose martini came with a giant ice cube, which did not fit far enough down the glass to raise the level of the relatively skimpy drink, and, of course, our usual three olives (very small and tasteless). When we stopped the busboy from removing the glass while there was still a quarter of the drink left, the busboy said “enjoy your ice,” which was a little too snotty for us.

The lobster roll snacks — actually a cigarette of phyllo dough with a little lobster and some creme fraiche — had very little taste, although our other snack, flash fried pickled Brussels sprouts, was quite good. Their signature hot foie gras in a ham hock broth was very bland, neither bringing out the flavor of the foie gras nor cutting the richness. The chicken liver pate, shaped like an apple, was similarly under spiced. The main course lobster was excellent, though a small portion, and the short ribs were tasty but very salty. As a final indignity, they forgot to bring our espresso until after they brought the bill — on which, of course, the espresso was charged. All in all, a rather pedestrian evening with Chef Shuman. But on the positive side for Betony, it was very expensive. 41 W. 57th St.

Howard Morgan and J. Ronald Trost

One Response to “Betony Restaurant”

  1. Couldn’t agree more! What a disappointment!

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