Sad Restaurant News: Betony Is Closing!

December 2, 2016

Betony Exterior Sign

On January 1, 2017, Betony will be no more. To say I was shocked when I saw the closure headline on Eater two evenings ago would be, to say the least, a severe understatement. There was no inkling of it when we had dinner there as part of my birthday extravaganza. (You can read my post about it here.) Why it is shuttering remains a mystery since in making the announcement, G.M. Eamon Rockey gave no reason. In any case, we’re enormously sad that we and NYC will be losing one of the best high end restaurants.

Since Betony opened 3-1/2 years ago, we’ve had 16 dinners and 2 lunches there. We’ve been twice for Thanksgiving and attended two Produce Playoff fundraising dinners. We also stopped in to congratulate them after they received 3 stars from The New York Times and stayed to have drinks (which were graciously comped). So, total times = 23.

Dining at Betony has always been a joy. We’re grateful that Eamon, Chef Bryce Shuman, Chef de Cuisine Jack Logue, and the staff considered us members of the Betony family and truly appreciate the kindness they’ve lavished on us.

We wish them all the very best!

At Home: Vanilla Sponge Cake

November 30, 2016

I long ago stopped subscribing to cooking magazines. However, for some time, Michael has been receiving free subscriptions to Food & Wine. He isn’t sure why this has been happening, but who’s complaining?

The December issue that arrived in our mailbox a few days ago contained an article about Dominique Ansel with a few recipes. If his name sounds familiar, that’s because he is, of course, the man who created the Cronut. No Cronut recipe here. But there was a recipe for a Vanilla Sponge Cake. In the list of ingredients, I noted that along with three egg yolks, it called for seven egg whites. It just so happened I had several egg whites leftover from another recipe sitting in my frig. So, this presented the perfect opportunity to use them up. The cake is not complicated to put together — lots of folding involved — and is baked in a loaf pan. I made it yesterday morning. Delicious? You bet!

At Home 2016: Vanilla Sponge Cake

At Home 2016: Vanilla Sponge Cake

The recipe is on the Food & Wine website here.

Quotations

November 28, 2016

“The time is out of joint.” – William Shakespeare, Hamlet: Act 1, Scene 5

“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if ever it reach us, it must spring among us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” – Abraham Lincoln, Lyceum Address, January 27, 1838

The Day After…

November 9, 2016

Heartsick!

Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor

Election Day 2016

November 8, 2016

Hillary Clinton Election Day

Photo Credit: Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America

I Voted

On the Day Before the Election…

November 7, 2016

Election 2016

“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana

Hillary 2016

At Home: Fall Colors

November 4, 2016

At Home: Fall Colors

5-Day Birthday Dining Extravaganza! (Part 2): betony

November 3, 2016

betony

When we were putting together my birthday dining itinerary, we were shocked to realize that we hadn’t been to betony since last Thanksgiving! How could that be?! Well, there were mitigating circumstances which I won’t go into here. In any case, it was imperative to rectify that state of affairs ASAP! Ergo, we went to betony on Friday evening for the first of our celebratory dinners.

Upon our arrival, we were immediately shown to “our” table, and G.M. Eamon Rockey quickly came by to welcome us back. After we chatted with him for a while, he asked what kind of beverages we’d like to start with. I requested lemonade (it was house made, of course!) while Michael asked him for a cocktail suggestion. In reply to Eamon’s question about liquor preference, Michael said rye and was very pleased with this cocktail dubbed Flannel Tea.

Flannel Tea

We’d looked at the menu on betony’s website, decided to do the four-course prix-fixe, and knew which dishes appealed to us. Checking the printed menu, we noted it accurately comported with the one on-line. I did inquire about the differences between the hot and cold foie gras since there are never any hints on the menu.

We missed seeing Executive Chef Bryce Shuman who was off that evening having some well-deserved time with his family; however, Chef de Cuisine Jack Logue took extraordinarily good care of us! After coming out to greet us, he came out not once but twice during the meal to personally serve us two complimentary courses! Plus, at the end of the meal, there was an extra dessert! Can you come up with a better definition for “extraordinarily good care”? I didn’t think so.

This nosh is the first thing that always arrives.

Crisps

Crisps

There is always an amuse, followed by a parade of hors d’oeuvres and bread service.

Amuse

Amuse: Tea

Hors d'Oeuvre

Scallion, Roe

Hors d'Oeuvre

Beets, Nuts

Hors d'Oeuvre

Spicy Carrot Roll

Hors d'Oeuvre

Black Trumpet Mushroom Chip

Hors d'Oeuvre

Matcha Marshmallow

House Made Roll

House Made Roll

For the main meal, Michael decided to have just one glass of wine.

Beaune Les Longes

My First Course:

Heirloom Radishes

Heirloom Radishes, Buttermilk, Caraway

Michael’s First Course:

'Nduja

‘Nduja, Celery, Ciabatta

Complimentary Course No. 1:

Millet

Millet

My Second Course:

Foie Gras

Foie Gras Marinated in Calvados, Apples

Michael’s Second Course:

Squid Noodles

Squid Noodles, Fluke, Seaweed

Complimentary Course No. 2:

White Truffles

White Truffles, Miatake Mushrooms, Mushroom Broth

We both had the same main course:

Poached Sea Bass

Poached Sea Bass, Onion, Watercress

Pre-Dessert:

Pre-Dessert

Pomegranate and Coconut

My Dessert:

Celery

Celery, Figs, Burrata

Michael’s Dessert:

Ice Cream

Vanilla, Coconut, Burrata

Complimentary Dessert:

Grapes

Grapes, Cinnamon, Buckwheat

To describe every dish as perfectly prepared and delicious is to state the obvious. I do have to be honest and admit that because I don’t like tea, I didn’t care for the amuse. But a minor detail to be sure. I must mention that during our absence, Mina Pizarro was hired to fill the position of Executive Pastry Chef which became vacant when Rebecca Isbell left. However, Mina was hardly new to us as we’d enjoyed her desserts at Veritas, SHO Shaun Hergatt, and Juni (all of them now closed).

This experience is indicative of why we always love dining at betony. It truly deserves its reputation as one of the city’s best restaurants.

To view the entire photo set of this dinner on my Flickr, click here.

5-Day Birthday Dining Extravaganza! (Part 1)

October 31, 2016

Many people complain about another birthday coming along. But that would definitely not be me! I’m totally grateful to have had another one and for Michael and me to still have good health that allows us to celebrate in the style to which we’ve become accustomed. This year, that was a 5-day dining extravaganza (with a show thrown in for good measure). It would be way too much to cover in a single report, so this is the first in what will be a series of posts. Hopefully, you will stick around to read them all.

We arrived in the city Thursday evening around 8:30 p.m., parked the car in the garage in our building (couldn’t find appropriate street parking), put our stuff away, and then went out to dinner. On these evening arrivals, we usually go to a place that’s casual and within walking distance. But before continuing, I must digress…

I’ve come to the point in my life when restaurants’ noise levels are of major importance to me. While delicious food remains a top priority, no matter how delicious it might be, if a restaurant’s noise level is hideously high, there’s no way I’m going there (end of digression).

Our pick on Thursday evening was Pippali, an Indian restaurant located in what is known as “Curry Hill,” the stretch on Lex in the mid- to upper 20’s. We’d been there a couple of times before, so no problems with the noise level. And the food is quite tasty.

The meal began with pappadum and dips. Michael drank Pellegrino; I had a mango lassi.

Here’s what we ate:

Chicken Tikka

Chicken Tikka

Vegetable Fritters

Vegetable Fritters

Adraki Chaampen

Lamb Chops

Basmati Rice

Basmati Rice

Onion Naan

Onion Naan

No dessert because Indian desserts rarely appeal. We took home leftover chicken, fritters, rice, and naan.

*****

Friday’s weather was rainy and raw. Since we were going upscale for dinner, we wanted someplace very casual for lunch — and close by. We chose Covina, which opened on 27th St., off Lex, at the beginning of this year. (It’s right next door to Pippali and across the street from I Trulli and Blue Smoke.) We’d had dinner there twice. While the food was very good, I found the noise level a bit too uncomfortable and seating rather cramped. But I wasn’t ready to totally give up on it and here’s why. They were going to eventually add lunch service. And what I’ve often found is that restaurants that are extremely noisy in the evening can be much quieter during lunch. So, I kept checking Covina’s website and discovered that morning that they had begun serving lunch. When we arrived around 1:30 p.m., there was just one other table occupied. Even with music playing — happily, at a modest level – it was quite peaceful.

To start, we chose from the “share” section of the menu.

Covina Hummus

Covina Hummus

Warm Sprouted Chickpeas, Lebanese Olive Oil, Cumin, Seasonal Crudité, Pita

The hummus was superb, the veggies were nice and crunch, and the pita was tasty albeit a bit too charred in spots.

Next, we shared this:

Wood Grilled Covina Burger

Wood Grilled Covina Burger

Wagyu and Ground Chuck Red Onion, American Cheese, Dashi Pickles, Special Sauce, and Fries

We always share sizable burgers. This one was excellent. Cooked exactly to our medium-rare specification, it was very flavorful and juicy. Great pickles and tasty sauce. The fries were crispy perfect.

I didn’t really want dessert, but Michael wanted sorbet, so I helped him out.

Vanilla Pear Sorbet

Vanilla Pear Sorbet

*****

Around 5 p.m., we took the car out of the garage as we always do on Fridays because there is free street parking near our apartment on weekends. But now, here’s the thing. The Jewish holidays of Schemini Azeret and Simchat Torah took place on Monday and Tuesday which meant alternate side parking rules were suspended for those two days. So, if we could find an alternate side space, we would have free parking until we returned to New Jersey Tuesday evening. Luckily, we found one! A very nice birthday present from the parking gods!

Time to get ready to go out to dinner. Where did we go? Stay tuned for the next installment to find out!

To see the full photo set of Pippali, click here.
To see the full photo set of Covina, click here.

In Today’s Mail…

October 28, 2016

DSC02277

DSC02275

I’m stoked!!