Thursday, May 30, 2013

BEET American Bistro & Bar Does Oysters

I'm delighted to bring you another delicious piece by my colleague, John Figlesthaler, who's recently tried BEET - an UES casual eatery devoted to oysters and you guessed it, beets and veggies.  Take it away John...

BEET is a newer restaurant in an UES neighborhood where I rarely find myself, but the allure of an offer to do a review is hard to pass up. My better half and I took the annoying post work cab ride up to 84th and 2nd and were met by the welcoming owner Daryl, GM Olivier and live jazz.


The atmosphere of BEET is casual, but still refined – a low lit and romantic vibe that makes the space inviting and comfortable. The live jazz on Wednesdays and Sundays definitely knocks it up a peg in my book, something that definitely beats even the best playlists. 


Oyster Sampler
- Part of the draw to BEET on this Wednesday was their oyster and jazz night. The band was already fired up so we needed oysters, and the sampler seemed like the way to go. Well Fleets and Montauk Pearls (they were out of Blue Points) appeared on their usual bed of ice, the bivalves fresh and steeped in brine. Unfortunately we weren’t given any sort of direction as to which oysters were which, and the mignonette, cocktail and tartar sauces were lackluster, but luckily they did the trick naked on the half shell.

Grilled Octopus and Baby Beet Salad - For round two we went with the grilled octopus and baby beet salad, it being the namesake vegetable, which apparently stems from the fact that in Daryl’s native Australia they slap the purple roots on everything. The tentacles came with a perfect light char resting on a bed of hummus, lemon confit for bite and olives for salt. A small salad of grilled celery and cilantro balanced out the plate making for a solid appetizer. The beet salad, a staple on almost every New American menu in town was good and light, mixed with apple matchsticks and a nutty pistachio vinaigrette.

Main Courses - On to the main courses, which were the seared yellowfin tuna n’ lobster and braised beef short ribs. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the whole lobster claws on the first plate that stood out, but the yellowfin seared with a peppery bark on the outside and a properly rare center. Unfortunately the lobster was on the rubbery side and the cartilage was still inside. The tuna and claws laid on a mound of nicoise’d fingerlings, green beans and cilantro that made this entrée salad a lot to tackle. With so much going on, scaling the dish back down to a simpler rendition would have done it justice.

The short ribs, on the other hand, were an extremely righteous dish. Braised to melting meat perfection, the off the bone beef had enough fat and flavor alone, but the port wine demi took it to a special place. Resting on a pillow of truffled mashed potatoes, complete with shaved black truffle instead of just cheap fake oil that everyone else uses, this is what high-class meat and potatoes should be like. There were also some nice crisp green and wax beans to bring cohesion, but really, it was the truffle and beef that did it for me.

Dessert - To round it all out, we closed with a pretty traditional crème brulee – a thick sugar crust that hid a nice buttery custard underneath. 

Drinks - Since the journey left us parched, drinks were in order right away. Gaby went with sparkling cocktail with muddled raspberry and mint called Bohemian Spirit and I went with the king of Belgian beers, Delirium Tremens.

Service and Cost:

Throughout dinner it was clear that the Daryl, along with Olivier and Chef Hassan Belamine really actually cared about both the hospitality and edible sides of BEET. This translated to attentive and welcoming service that made for a relaxing dinner.Costs are on the moderate to high side and include:

Appetizers - $10 - $18
Entrees - $16 - $33

Sides - $6 
Drinks - $8 - $12

2 Mmmms

BEET - 1619 2nd Avenue, New York NY 10028
6 Train to 86th Street

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