Bryce Shuman and Eamon Rockey's Michelin-starred Betony, following the increasingly inevitable path of ambitious U.S. restaurants, dropped its a la carte offerings in March in favor of prix fixe and tasting menus. Under the new gustatory regime, a four-course menu will cost $95 before extras; a ten-course tasting will cost $195. Previously, individual plates ran $11-$48, with desserts at $14.
Betony isn't alone in doing so. Thirty Acres in Jersey City, recently the subject of this critic's three-star Eater review, dropped its a la carte options in February, replacing them with a $75 prix fixe. Moving to a set menu can help a restaurant control its food costs more efficiently, locking diners into a set number of courses and thereby reducing waste from those who might've otherwise have skipped appetizers or dessert. Restaurateurs, of course, would argue a set menu is also about improving the guest experience, and that's how Rockey describes the changes at Betony.
Here's what he told Eater: "Over the two years we’ve been open, the vast majority of this time as an a la carte restaurant, diners have constructed an extremely wide variety of menus for themselves, and we have taken note of the instances where the experience has most consistently exceeded our guests’ expectations. In particular, these menus have comprised hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, main courses, and a dessert, or cheese. It’s that simple: we made the change to a four-course prix fixe to ensure that we are providing people with the style of meal that most often results in absolute raves."
He goes on: "It's important to note that this structure does not necessarily increase the average check, though it obviously does require all diners to commit to a minimum of four courses." And he's right. The change won't necessarily increase your bill. But it probably will. Dinner for two will now cost $245 or more after tax and tip. Under the old a la carte format, a four-course meal for two, while often hovering around the same price Betony commands now, could drop to as low as $204, or less for those who ate less.
As supplements to the new $95 menu, Betony offers caviar service for a $75, foie gras for $15, as well as a tete de cochon for $25. The latter dish, a milk-fed pig's head for two that's carved tableside (imagine the sight of that for a minute), is accompanied by tarte flambee, mustard greens, boudin blanc, smoked potato mousseline, a salad of the pig's ear, tongue, and brain, and fennel choucroute. Boom.
The longer tasting, which includes a composed caviar course, involves no supplements, save the $95 beverage pairing. That means a fully loaded dinner date for two, after tax and tip, will run $747. The menu normally takes just over three hours to complete.
The price of the tasting, at $195, is high, but not out of line for a high-end New York restaurant. Blanca in Bushwick and Ichimura in Tribeca both charge as much for their respective menus. Jean-Georges, in turn, asks $208; Le Bernardin asks $205 for its longest menu; and Daniel charges $225.
Betony's lunch menu remains at $38. A shorter a la carte menu of counter snacks (foie gras bon bons, lobster rolls) will also be available to guests at the bar during dinner.
And here's what the full prix fixe menu looks like: