Sunday, September 26, 2010

Betel, Trying A Bit Too Hard


 Recently I had the pleasure of going to the brunch preview at Betel in the West Village. Working in an environment off fabulocity I knew this was the new hot spot on the map. So I jumped, wait I mean lept at the chance to give the new brunch menu a chance.  With a girlfriend in tow we headed downtown for what was soon to be an interesting and long brunch. Stepping into the resto the decor is minimal and modern. A long communal table anchors the center of the establishment. Upon being seated our waiter was initially attentive. He explained the non traditional menu and suggested what we should eat and drink. With the idea of brunch in our heads I was expecting a mix of sweet and savory options remixed into Betels Asian palate but there was maybe one egg dish and not a french toast or a pancake in sight.  We started with a Dim Sum and then a main course; or this is what we expected.  We ordered Pork Buns and Duck Dumplings.  Well the pork buns were sitting in grease, and saturated; however the flavor was mild.  The dumplings never came so I cannot harp on what the waiter said was delicious and one of the best dishes offered.  Our main courses were the roasted pork sandwich and the banh mi burger.  The roast pork sandwich is not to be missed. Served on a soft, almost soggy baguette, the tender pork is the right mix between sweet and savory. Incredibly tender, the crisp vegetables balance the complex textures of the sandwich.  Before the burger arrives, the aroma reaches the table. Trading in the pork for beef, the flavors burst in ones mouth. Served on a soft bun, the patty is topped with cilantro and all the other necessities to make the perfect banh mi. Although much more expensive then the ones available in Chinatown, the flavors are stiff competition.  Served, with sweet potato fries that are actually crisp, the sweet balances the sharp flavors of the burger.  The food was great here for the exception of the buns, and maybe the dumplings are out of this world but I will probably never know.  Service was incredibly spotty, our waiter would disappear on ends and the time elapsed between courses was not consistent.  Prices are consistent with what other restaurants offer.  I am not so sure what this is called brunch, maybe to be on trend, but in reality this is just a restaurant that is open during brunch hours serving lunch.  Maybe once the kinks are ironed out Betel will be worth trying again.  As for right now there are a million options here in the city and the ones with bottomless mimosas are that more tempting.      

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