Sunday, December 28, 2014

Betony -- A Charles Dickens Meal -- Great Eating Experience

From the Upper Level
What makes a meal memorable?  For the last 4 years and 130+ posts the meals I remember were great food, unique ambiance, great service and a fantastic experience.  Most of the restaurants I review have the first 3 elements but the fourth element, fantastic experience is earned.  It usually involves a restaurant team member that asks more than how do you like your meal.  Betony is a restaurant that will stand out in our minds as a great experience. 
When you walk into Betony you observe the vastness of the space and the combination of the brick from the original infrastructure and the contemporary architectural touches that give it an edge of newness.  We were seated in the upper section where there you could look down on the NYC bar scene below.  Where we were seated there is very fine detail that has been added to the walls.  One side there is this very old world wood panel and on the other there is a cement laminate with designs and hand written French sayings. There was a lot of thought put into the entire environment to make it unique.  The overall ambiance of the restaurant gives you the feel of formality without the need to be dressed formal or act formal, it is warm and comfortable.
Blue Corn Croquette
Yogurt and Beets
The menu is very direct and the combinations of flavors could keep a diner busy for many visits.  On this night they were featuring a holiday special of Pheasant and all the trimmings almost like the meal from the Christmas Carol.  We really did order this because it was our holiday treat and a unique way to round out a trip to in NYC during the Christmas week shopping, crowd watching, holiday decoration and awesome store windows.   

We started with an Amuse Bouche of pickled beets combined with horseradish, fennel and yogurt.  The beets were sweet, the horse radish had heat, the yogurt was tangy and added the right amount of fat.  We ordered as an appetizer the Blue Corn Croquettes with Cilantro and Aleppo Pepper it was like a New Mexican potato puff crunchy, creamy spicy.

Pheasant Perfectly Presented
The staff came out to our table to present us the Pheasant before it was prepared for us to eat.  It was sitting in a bid of herbs and we felt like Tiny Tim seeing his Christmas Goose.  Very soon after that the entire meal was brought out which included roasted Peruvian Potatoes in brown butter, sautéed Swiss Chard with lemon and garlic, grilled "Hen of the Woods" mushrooms a spiced apple and cranberry Chutney, a Pheasant Leg Confit, a meat tart with game hearts and gizzards flavored with Foie Gras and Black Truffle with a sauce of Foie Gras, Black Truffle and Madeira. The Red Necked Pheasant from D'artagnan was sourced from Scotland and was cooked on a Yakatori grill perfectly medium rare, moist and hint taste of the herbs.  Pheasant is very difficult to cook because the lack of fat, the chefs at Betony created a perfect dish and accompanied it with the sweet and spicy chutney.  Each of the accompaniments were simple, the Potatoes were sweet, the Chard was just crisp enough and the "Hen of the Woods" mushrooms added a great texture to the meal.  One of the standouts of the meal was the heart and gizzard tart which was
Heart Tart
delicious with a great savory and spicy bite.  Overall this meal 
Colorful Chard
was done perfectly and we were satiated and satisfied, the service had been great, if we had walked out at this point Betony would have gotten a good review.  Through out the night the floor staff had paid a lot of attention to the clients.  One of the team, Eamon Rockey spent some time with us and asked us about the meal and we got into the discussion of the blog and the menu.  It was apparent that Eamon had a passion for fine dining and we shared some great places that we had been to.  At the time we did not realize Eamon was the GM of the restaurant.  I asked Eamon what his favorite item on the menu was and he was adamant that they had the best Short Rib anywhere.  I was skeptical, when I think Short Rib I think slow cooked beef smothered in a Madeira Sauce that falls off the bone.  Something that I have cooked at home.  Eamon asked us if we had room to try their Short Rib and with a little bit of hesitation from me and prodding and challenging from him we reloaded for meal number two.

Short Rib Perfection
The Short Rib from Betony is the anti Short Rib served at every other restaurant I have reviewed.  It was like eating the finest piece of Waygu beef, tender marbled with just the right amount of fat.  It was served with a mustard sauce, a grilled onion and a stuffed Brussels Sprout filled with Foie Gras and Truffle and a small smear of mustard. On top of tat they served a smoked whipped potato which were addictive. Bottom line Eamon proved me wrong with a Short Rib that is so right.  This is the reason I love to go to great restaurants because people like Eamon change the meal to an experience that is memorable.