Betony [lunch]

So happy to be back at Betony! I was thrilled to see lots of new dishes on the menu and couldn’t wait to try as many as possible. Our amuse bouche was a green tomato gazpacho with pumpernickel — a creative and refreshing start to a delicious lunch. The first course included the pig’s head terrine with mustard and salsa verde (one word: awesome) and asparagus velouté with green garlic and pumpernickel (smooth and velvety with a hint of tanginess). My entree was exquisite: poached tilefish with saffron and fennel. The fish was incredibly moist and tender — it literally melted in my mouth — and the broth was heavenly. I think I need a gallon of that to go, please. Sadly, we had to cut our lunch short due to time restrictions, but I will definitely be back soon for dinner and some of Eamon Rockey’s famous milk punch!

Betony:  41 West 57th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenue) 

img_0778-3

Green Tomato Gazpacho with pumpernickel 

img_0791-3

Pig’s Head Terrine with mustard and salsa verde 

img_0782-3

Asparagus Velouté with green garlic and pumpernickel 

img_0794-2

Poached Golden Tilefish with saffron and fennel 

Betony [lunch]

Betony [lunch]

Excited to check out the lunch menu at Betony for the first time (appetizer + entree for $38). I saw some familiar dishes that I really enjoyed and some new ones that I couldn’t wait to taste. The grain salad with labne is a favorite of mine that might be easily overlooked or underestimated — I mean, who wants grain salad when you can have meat or pasta? It is way more interesting and complex dish than the description, with a beautiful blend of textures and flavors. The labne (strained yogurt) is thick and creamy, the sprouts are fresh and crispy, and the grains are crunchy and delicious! I remember Chef Bryce mentioning that this is one of his favorite dishes on the menu —  I can certainly see why! My friend ordered the hen’s egg with tagliatelle and ham hock, which I had a few luscious bites of. That runny yolk just gets me every time. As a surprise course, we feasted on the poached lobster with asparagus and almond — an extraordinary treat! The lobster was poached to perfection in a broth that tasted like heaven. This was followed by the black sea bass With fennel and couscous which was beyond moist and tender. By the end of our lunch, I was stuffed and happy. It was great seeing Chef Bryce Shuman and Eamon Rockey (General Manager) — these guys are extraordinary at what they do.  An enormous thank you to both of them and the Betony team for a fantastic lunch! I’ll be back again soon. :-)

Betony:  41 West 57th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenue) 

img_7089

Grain Salad with Labne and Sprouts

img_7090

Hen’s Egg with Tagliatelle and Ham Hock 

img_7092

Black Sea Bass with Fennel and Couscous

img_7093

Poached Lobster with Asparagus and Almond 

Betony [lunch]

Three-Star New York: Chef Bryce Shuman at the James Beard House

The second I found out that Chef Bryce Shuman was cooking at the James Beard House, I reserved a seat. He’s one of the most talented chefs in the country right now and has opened what I believe to be the best new restaurant in NYC this year. And he’s a super nice guy! On the menu were some of the amazing dishes that I know and love from the Betony menu (foie gras bonbons, lobster rolls, grain salad with labne & sprouts, and the grilled short ribs with romaine & sweetbreads) in addition to a number of new ones that I was eagerly anticipating (sunchoke veloute, poached lobster with chestnuts, smoked foie gras with kabocha squash & buckwheat, just to name a few). Every single dish was extraordinary! I was already a fan of the grilled short rib and gained an even greater appreciation for it after Chef Bryce told us about the preparation (it’s cooked for two days at 135 degrees, then poached with dry-aged beef fat and subsequently cooked on binchotan charcoal). After all of that time and effort, it’s no wonder that those short ribs taste like heaven!

James Beard House: 167 West 12th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenue)
Betony:  41 West 57th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenue)

img_54262

Chef Bryce Shuman having fun in the Beard House kitchen

img_54222

The amazing Betony team

img_5454

Foie Gras Bonbon with Black Pepper

img_5460

Lobster Roll

img_5444

Sunchoke Velouté with Hazelnuts and Granny Smith Apples 

img_5449

Grain Salad with Labne and Sprouts 

img_5448

Smoked Foie Gras with Kabocha Squash and Buckwheat 

img_5442

Hen’s Egg with Black Trumpet Mushrooms and Ginger 

img_5443

Poached Lobster with Chestnuts and Spices

img_5446

Grilled Short Ribs with Romaine and Sweetbreads 

img_5445

Toasted Rice with Meyer Lemon and Lavender

Three-Star New York: Chef Bryce Shuman at the James Beard House

Betony

I’m thrilled to be back at Betony after experiencing such an incredible meal when I first dined here in August. Since then, I had the great privilege of interviewing Executive Chef Bryce Shuman for my chef interview series, Table Talk! He was one of the warmest and funniest people I’ve ever met, and I really enjoyed getting to know him. Tonight we started off with a beautiful bottle of Pinot Noir from Anthill Farms — it was a fantastic recommendation by the sommelier. Our appetizers were amazing:  foie gras bon bons (they are the best!), poached oysters with matsutake mushrooms and pearl barley, and cavatellli with poached egg and black trumpet mushrooms. We opted to add shaved white truffles to our cavatelli as an extra treat and were delighted when Chef Bryce came to our table to personally shave them over our pasta! The entrees were phenomenal, from the acorn squash lasagna (I had never tried an all vegetable lasagna before — even the “noodles” were made out of squash) to the sinfully decadent grilled short rib. I don’t know what’s going on with that short rib, but it is mind blowing for sure! For dessert, we shared frozen chocolate stout macarons, puffed jasmine rice with lavender and lemon, and honey crisp apple with cheddar ice cream. Every last bite was unforgettable. Thank you so much, Chef Bryce, for another beautiful and memorable meal!

Betony:  41 West 57th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenue) 

img_5335

Anthill Farms Pinot Noir

img_5341-2_0

Foie Gras Bonbons, cashew, and black pepper

img_5348-2_0

Poached Oysters, matsutake, and pearl barley

img_2791

Chef Bryce Shuman shaving beautiful white truffles onto our cavatelli

img_2795

Keep ’em comin’, Chef!

img_5358-2_0

Poached Egg, black trumpets, cavatelli, and shaved white truffles

img_5362-2_1

Red Oak Acorn Lasagna, acorn squash, and pumpernickel

img_5351-2_0

Grilled Short Rib, romaine, and sweetbreads

img_5390

Trio of Frozen Chocolate Stout Macarons

img_5383-2_1

Jasmine Rice, lavender, and Meyer lemon

img_5387-2_1

Honey Crisp Apple, Thyme, and Cheddar Ice Cream

img_5368_1

The dining room

img_5377_1

The dining room

Betony

Table Talk with Chef Bryce Shuman

Current Gig
Executive Chef, Betony

About the Chef
In high school, Chef Bryce was determined to become an actor. When he didn’t get in to the acting schools of his choice, he started working at a restaurant in North Carolina. Three years later, Chef Bryce made the life-changing decision to attend culinary school in San Francisco. He worked at Postrio and Rubicon in SF before heading to Delaware, where he met and became good friends with Chef Hari Cameron at Nage.  Chef Bryce came to New York City in 2007 and worked under Chef Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park as Sous Chef and Executive Sous Chef for almost six years. In May 2013, Chef Bryce and fellow EMP alum, Eamon Rockey, opened Betony, a modern American restaurant named after a plant in the mint family.  Betony, which was awarded three stars by the New York Times, is already well-known for its creative, approachable, and downright delicious food.

Betony:  41 West 57th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenue) 

image-2

Chef Bryce Shuman at Betony

Where did you grow up?
It’s hard for me to say where I grew up because I feel like I’ve been growing up until this very moment. (Laughing)  I was born near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and lived there until about the second grade. My family moved to Pennsylvania, where I stayed until the seventh or eighth grade, and then we moved back to North Carolina – first to Greenville, then Winston-Salem, and back to Greenville again. Needless to say, I moved around a lot when I was younger.

What did you enjoy eating most as a kid?
My dad used to make tuna melts for me as a kid. When we opened Betony, I had a version of a tuna melt on the menu. I just love them.  I also loved eating at my mom’s house during the holidays. She’s a great cook who is constantly pickling things and baking different types of breads. It was my responsibility to make the salads and set the table.  It was also my job to clean up afterward. (Laughing)  For the holidays, we would have some sort of roast along with boiled dill potatoes, soup, and homemade bread. We always ate dinners together as a family and we were never allowed to take food and sit in front of the TV. I think cooking really brings people together – it’s such a bonding experience.
My favorite BBQ place is B’s Barbecue in Greenville, North Carolina. It’s this little place, basically a shack, and it’s amazing. They even have a road named after them: B’s Barbecue Road. There are smokehouses out back where they smoke whole hogs — Carolina BBQ style — and they serve it with chicken, corn sticks, coleslaw, Brunswick stew, boiled potatoes, and rice. When B’s runs out of food, they close, so if you’re not there by 1pm, you’re not getting anything. (Laughing) They are located close to a hospital, so you see this tiny shack and down the street, there are all of these doctors with their Mercedes, Range Rovers, and BMWs parked along a ditch – it’s quite the juxtaposition. (Laughing)

At the moment, what is your favorite ingredient and what do you like to make with it?
I really like acorn squash. That was another thing that my mom prepared when I was a kid. She cut it in half, seasoned it with salt, pepper, and a little bit of brown sugar, scooped some butter into it, put a clove of garlic and some thyme in there, and threw it into a hot oven and roast it until it got all soft and caramelized.  It’s like candy. Right now I’ve got this pasta dish on the menu that is essentially an acorn lasagna with acorn squash. We take acorn flour and make pasta out of it – we roll it out and laminate herbs into the dough.  Then we take the acorn squash and roast it, just like my mom did, scoop it out, put it in the blender to make a nice puree, and add some brown butter. That goes on the bottom of the plate. We turn the acorn squash into banana fingers and confit them in a little bit of olive oil before searing them in brown butter. When trimming down the acorn squash, we use the extra trimmings to make the sauce. It gets roasted down in a pan with garlic, thyme, sage, and shallots, then we hit it with a little bit of cognac and white wine. After the alcohol cooks out, we reduce it down, add some chicken stock, simmer it, strain it, season it with lemon juice, melt butter into it, and blend it until it’s frothy.  So we’ve got the pasta, acorn squash puree, acorn squash sauce done. Then we add crumbled bits of parmesan, herbs, grated nutmeg, and a crumble of pumpernickel, pumpkin seeds and caraway for some crunch. It’s really tasty… and it all started with a simple acorn squash.

What kitchen items are important for a home cook to own?
There are little things that we use in a professional kitchen that I think are convenient to have at home. I don’t want to sound silly by saying that you should have a pair of tweezers, but there are mid-sized tweezers (in between tongs and the little guys) that you can use to do a ton of stuff, like sautéing and picking things up very delicately. If you are searing pieces of beef or turning veggies over in a pan, they come in really handy and I find myself using them at home a lot when I cook. A small offset spatula helps, too. I also use a cake tester a lot at home. When I’m cooking potatoes for puree, I know exactly when the potatoes are done. When I’m cooking meat, I know what the temperature is inside. The cake tester comes in so handy when doing all of these other things besides actually testing how done a cake is.

If your food were music, what music style(s) would it be and why?
I love music. I have turntables set up in my living room and I collect drum & base and jungle records. I used to play them – but only for parties at home or for friends, not out in nightclubs or anything like that. (Laughing)  I also collect a lot of jazz and bluegrass, as well as eighties pop and freestyle.  I’m really into bluegrass, which has a very distinct style. I would say that my food is most similar to bluegrass because it’s fun and it has soul. It feels very comfortable, but at the same time, you need to have an incredible amount of technique in order to pull it off and make it sound good. It’s approachable and it just makes you feel good.

Where are your favorite places to travel for the cuisine?
I enjoy going to Blackberry Farm in the mountains of Tennessee. Sam Beall is the owner and Joseph Lenn is the executive chef. You stay in these cute little cottages and they teach you fly fishing and take you shooting. The food is amazing. They’re raising truffles in the hills and have trained truffle dogs by a guy who used to be a dog trainer in the circus. Pretty awesome! It’s such a beautiful place. In the future, I would really like to go to Southeast Asia and spend six months or a year there. I just love the cuisine!

If you had not gone the culinary route, what would you have done instead?
I really loved to DJ for a while and I thought that I would figure out a way to do it for a living. I also wanted to be an actor when I was in high school. I was pretty much obsessed with acting and ended up going to a conservatory for my senior year of high school. I came to New York to audition, but didn’t get into the acting schools that I liked. At that point, I was like, “OK, I’ll take a year off to grow as a human being and experience more things so I can bring some more life into my monologues.” (Laughing)  I needed a job so I started washing dishes at a restaurant back in North Carolina. It was great –and I met my wife there. (Smiling) I moved up through different kitchen stations, from dishwashing to cold apps, then hot apps, saute, the grill, and finally, I was promoted to chef de cuisine. After three years, I came to this crossroads and was like, “Well, what am I going to do now?” I decided to go to culinary school out in San Francisco, and the rest is history!

Which chef do you admire most right now?
To be truly inspired, I need to have a personal connection. I tend to be inspired most by the people that I know and work with. Chef Daniel Humm has been such a huge influence in my life.  He is such a determined and talented chef who has taught me so much. He’s the most incredible chef that I have ever worked for.  Another chef that I admire is Stuart Brioza of State Bird Provisions in San Francisco. He’s a super talented guy who always finds the greatest ingredients. The way he uses them is just fun and delicious – everything he makes tastes so good. He was the first chef to turn me on to matsutakes, which are my favorite fungus, maybe even more than a white truffle. They have such a great flavor and aroma, it just knocks my socks off every time I smell a bowl of them (taking a big sniff and laughing). I have great respect for all of the chefs that I have worked with along the way.  Brett Cooper of Outerlands in San Francisco was one of my culinary school classmates. He’s a brilliant chef who is doing some really amazing things.  Christopher Kostow, who also worked for Chef Humm and is now running The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley, is such an incredibly talented chef. He’s so driven and super passionate. I have a lot of respect for the chefs at The NoMad – Abram Bissell, James Kent, Angela Pinkerton, and Chris Flint. They are all amazing and talented chefs.

When you get a chance to dine out, where do you like to go?
I tend to seek out Thai or Chinese restaurants. I really like spicy Szechuan and Isan Thai food!  I like going to Café China and Wa Jeal. I haven’t been to Legend yet but I want to check it out. Zabb Elee in the East Village is pretty tasty, too.

If you had to give up one of the five food groups (Bread & Potatoes; Milk & Dairy; Meat & Fish; Fat & Sugar; Fruits & Vegetables) and could not eat anything from that group for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
This is a terrible question! (Laughing) I think it would have to be Bread and Potatoes. I could do alright without them. I definitely could never live without vegetables because that’s most of what I eat. Now, I don’t claim to be healthy – I cover them in fat, sugar and lots of butter. Fat and sugar are what make life worth living. (Laughing)  I just love meat and fish too much to give them up. I might be able to give up dairy. It’s gotta be between dairy and bread. Man, this is hard! (Laughing)

Table Talk with Chef Bryce Shuman

Betony

Once I heard that the former Executive Sous at Eleven Madison Park (Bryce Shuman) opened his own restaurant, I knew I had to try it — Immediately. I also knew that I would love it. And I was right (as usual). 😉  An old college friend and I met up for dinner and decided to go all out. We wanted to try as many dishes as possible so we ordered up a storm (ten or eleven dishes in total). Every single one was elegant and beautifully presented, and most importantly, absolutely delicious. I loved the cleverness of the “lobster roll” (which looked more like a skinny spring roll) and the “tuna melt”. The foie gras bon bons were melt-in-your-mouth amazing — the foie was so creamy & light and went perfectly with the crunchy cashews. I’ll take twenty of those to go, thanks! Two of my favorite entrees were pasta dishes: potato gnocchi with corn and sheep’s milk ravioli with eggplant. Each course was custom paired with wines selected by Betony’s incredibly knowledgeable Sommelier. I was particularly enthralled with the Pinor Noir selection: Thomas Morey Santenay Grand Clos Rosseau. I need to buy a case of that stuff! Our meal ended with three perfect bites… and a surprise visit from Chef Bryce Shuman, which totally made my day! He stopped by our table to chat for a few minutes and find out how our meal was — he’s such a nice guy. We had such an amazing experience at Betony and cannot wait to return to see what new and exciting dishes Chef Shuman creates next!

Betony:  41 West 57th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenue) 

img_3953

“Lobster Roll”, Crème Fraîche, Salt & Pepper

img_3954

“Tuna Melt”, Fontina, Brioche

img_3957

Marinated Trout Roe, Puffed Rice, Cucumber

img_3959

Foie Gras Bonbons, Cashew, Black Pepper

img_3963

Roasted Bone Marrow, Wax Beans, Savory

img_3968

Cured Spanish Mackerel, Tomato, Fennel

img_3969

Potato Gnocchi, Corn, Purslane

img_3973

Foie Gras, Hot or Cold

img_3976

Sheep’s Milk Ravioli, Eggplant, Mustard Greens

img_3978

Dried Cherry & Pistachio Divinity, Pink Peppercorn Caramel Chew, Frozen Chocolate Stout Macaron  

img_7631

The beautiful dining room

Betony