Mon-Thu, 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sat, 5pm-10:30pm; Sun, closed
1, A, B, C, D at 59th St.-Columbus Circle; E, M at Fifth Ave.-53rd St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
It’s possible to enjoy a decent gourmet meal for yourself at the ambitious, preciously named new midtown restaurant Betony (it’s a kind of herb) provided you ignore the location (on a hectic stretch of 57th Street) and the feng shui-challenged room and décor, much of which seems to have been left over from the previous tenant. Betony’s proprietor is a Russian businessman named Andrey Dellos, who also bankrolled a doomed venture called Brasserie Pushkin, which briefly occupied the same address last fall. The spaceship-size pastry counter that graced the front of the room at Brasserie Pushkin has been mercifully removed, along with the flowery neo-oligarch artwork. But the oppressive color scheme is a holdover (brown tablecloths; grayish bathhouse brick walls; brown velvet banquettes), and the two-tiered dining space still feels oddly stuffy, especially if you sit in the back. Betony’s studied, occasionally overfussy menu (conceived by former Eleven Madison Park executive sous-chef Bryce Shuman) appears to be a kind of uptown-lite version of the one at his old mother ship. The most successful dishes tend to lean heavily on Daniel Humm’s polished, haute-barnyard model, in particular the seared foie gras (in an inventive ham-hock consommé), and the chicken breast, which is served with a side of shredded thigh meat on dandelion greens. My soft flap of short rib seemed to have been in the sous vide bag for several hours too long, but no one had any complaints about the poached lobster, topped with a little toupee of fresh dill. For maximum gourmet pleasure, complement it with a luxurious chocolate crémeux or the coconut pâté au bombe, a buttery dessert that combines the earthy pleasures of sticky-toffee pudding with the ethereal booziness of an old-fashioned baba au rhum.
Picnics with a view, roller-skating nostalgia, and a party for gay headbangers.