Bettin’ on Betty
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Bettin’ on Betty

The Hollywoodish restaurant has a snazzy design without being prissy, yet poses as a “Supper Club for Every Occasion.” Here, the chef shares with us tidbits on pasta, pecorino, and gougères.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

  • Chef Brandon Chavannes has an outstanding culinary resume and is of Jamaican and Norwegian heritage.
    Chef Brandon Chavannes has an outstanding culinary resume and is of Jamaican and Norwegian heritage.
  • The bar by the entrance overlooks the main dining area.
    The bar by the entrance overlooks the main dining area.
  • Top: celery ceviche seasoned with serrano and pecorino. Bottom: wedge salad with Point Reyes blue cheese and black sesame seeds.
    Top: celery ceviche seasoned with serrano and pecorino. Bottom: wedge salad with Point Reyes blue cheese and black sesame seeds.
  • From left: cauliflower with chili and pine nuts, lasagna rotolo, and swordfish made for a complex satisfying dinner.
    From left: cauliflower with chili and pine nuts, lasagna rotolo, and swordfish made for a complex satisfying dinner.
  • Dessert: the coconut roll was clever in combining miso and cinnamon
    Dessert: the coconut roll was clever in combining miso and cinnamon

Not stuffy, not flashy, but somehow still classy, The Betty, an eatery inside the new Kimpton Sylvan Hotel on East Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead, has found its sweet spot. Billed as Old Hollywood glamor, it’s a hybrid of Ray’s on the River (minus the river) and the long-defunct Coach & Six restaurant, without the crudités.

Why Betty? I wondered. “It’s a wink at the 1950s: elegant yet contemporary, not stuffy,” said our server. Maybe Betty Grable? (Not to be confused with Lazy Betty on the BeltLine, which this column previously reviewed.) The interior works with the toney bar by the entrance and the dining area visible below. Expect textured charcoal wall treatments, a black and white tile floor, marble trim, and paintings only on one wall. The leather banquettes lining the periphery lend a bird’s eye view facing center.

Chef Brandon Chavannes has an outstanding culinary resume and is of Jamaican and Norwegian heritage.

Ambiance aside, Chef Brandon Chavannes loves his craft and puts his heart and mind into what’s being served. Part of his secret is constantly fine-tuning the menu and top-flight ingredients. At The Betty, he says, “French butter, French vinegar, local produce, Ligurian olive oil, and lots of fermented components help achieve a depth of flavor.”

As a starter, every table gets a tempting basket of gougères — cheesy French puffs that Chavannes kvells over: “I think bread is an essential part of the meal, but since COVID, bakers have had a difficult time navigating the new dining landscape. Rather than sacrificing quality, we thought about what was feasible to execute with the space and equipment limitations here. We have no proofing room, nor enough space to roll out loaves or boules every day, nor do we have storage or appropriate ovens for large scale baking … so we needed something we could make, store, and bake within 24 hours, but that was also fun and true to the concept. Having worked in Italian restaurants, I know cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) is always a hit.”

Top: celery ceviche seasoned with serrano and pecorino. Bottom: wedge salad with Point Reyes blue cheese and black sesame seeds.

Here’s what we sampled:

Wedge Salad: Point Reyes blue cheese, black sesame seeds, tomatoes. ($15)

Raw Celery Ceviche: Serrano, pecorino, mushrooms. Don’t think only fish counts as ceviche. ($11)

Grilled swordfish: Tomatoes, capers, olives, okra. ($33)

Lasagna Rotolo: Mushrooms, aged balsamic, pecorino fondue. ($18)

Side: Cauliflower, parmesan aioli, chili, pine nuts. ($11)

Dessert: Coconut roll — kaya jam, cinnamon, miso. ($9)

The lasagna was delicious, but don’t expect a red sauce. “Tomato sauce actually isn’t as traditional with lasagna as some think,” Chef Chavannes says. “In traditional Italian food, it’s about micro-regional and seasonal cooking. While many families bottle their own pasta sauce to use off-season, it’s just as common to see iterations that have no tomato in sight, but rather winter squash, or foraged mushrooms, even just egg and ricotta. Just as you can have spaghetti with different condiments, so you can have lasagna. When people hear lasagna, they assume it will be a lasagna Bolognese, but we wanted to highlight beautiful, locally grown mushrooms.”

From left: cauliflower with chili and pine nuts, lasagna rotolo, and swordfish made for a complex satisfying dinner.

For next time, try the Whole Salt Crusted Fish — see Grand Plates on the menu, perfect for sharing — which comes wrapped around its skeleton and blanched in collard greens. The salt is packed on top before baking at 400 degrees for 26 minutes. The sauce is a delightful barigoule of artichokes, leeks, and fennel mounted with butter, finished with fines herbs tableside.

Chavannes says, “Making a good pasta is repetition and bonding with the process. Understand it all the way through; not just the quality of the eggs, the flour, or how to make the dough, but how it absorbs the condiment, how the thickness determines the need for acidity, how long it wants to be in the pan. It takes practice and a zealous appetite.”

When it comes to cheese, the chef says, “There are many types of pecorino. Pecorino Romano Fulvi is probably the most common, though there are many other dry, salty, delicious sheep’s milk cheeses that use the pecorino designation. I like the intense salt that Romano Fulvi has as it cuts through and adds a unique intensity of flavor.”

Dessert: the coconut roll was clever in combining miso and cinnamon

Cheese and pasta, pasta and cheese. Delish anyway you phrase it. Now where’s Betty?

The Betty is located inside the Kimpton Sylvan Hotel at 374 East Paces Ferry Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30305. (877) 984-6548.

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