For an impressive pedigree, you can’t beat the two guys running Betony, the new New American restaurant in West Midtown.
The owner, Moscow native Andrey Dellos, inspires less confidence. He’s the guy behind the Meatpacking District horror Manon. He also owned Betony’s predecessor in this space, the lavish Russian-themed Brasserie Pushkin, which got mixed reviews, was ignored in The Times, and lasted just nine months.
In turning to Shulman and Rockey, Dellos apparently realized that he needed a team with New York street cred. Their presence more-or-less guarantees that the critics will at least visit the place.
But the renovations are a half-measure that, I fear, has not gone far enough. Having invested enough in Brasserie Pushkin to buy a small château (around $5 million), Dellos apparently wasn’t willing to lose all of his sunk costs. So Betony is Brasserie Pushkin lite, the décor revised but still recognizably the same space.
The restaurant’s name, taken from an herb cultivated since ancient times for its reputed medicinal properties, is perhaps not the best.
I like a spot like Betony, with its plush chairs, soft lighting, and crisp tablecloths. I’m in the minority these days. I worry that the downtown crowd that know Shulman and Rockey from their previous gigs will take one step in the door, and find it an instant turn-off. They shouldn’t, but I’m a realist. If Betony needs to rely mainly on a midtown audience, I wonder if perhaps the food is too intellectual for the less adventurous diners that populate West Midtown near Carnegie Hall.