Monday, July 11, 2011
J. Betski's $20 Menu - Rich food at Pauper Prices!
Last week, I found myself in Raleigh, NC for a business trip. Being completely unfamiliar with the area, I turned to the chowhound.com community for some advice, and they did not disappoint! Of all the tempting deals proposed, I settled on the $20 menu at J.Betski's for two reasons. 1. $20 for two people sounds like quite the deal and 2. I've never eaten in a German/Polish restaurant.
The decor at J. Betski's feels like a light and airy take on an old German monastery. There is the requisite dark wood paneling, amber stained glass, and beer steins lining the bar. Even the cutlery had intricate scroll work on the handles, an unexpected touch of class not normally found in today's restaurants. The walls are decorated with delicate wrought iron frames, a modern suggestion of the old monastery windows. And then there's the light! One entire wall is made of windows which leads to their outdoor patio. When we arrived at 7:30pm, the place was still awash in sunlight, giving it a bright, welcoming feeling.
After the waitress took our drink orders (they have a number of specialty cocktails that use flavors such as elderberry), my coworker and I settled down to the business of figuring out the food. The $20 deal includes one appetizer and two "pub" plates. The pub plates menu seems to be made up of what I would call German/Polish comfort food, while the regular menu has a more elegant and refined take on the classics. Bring on the comfort!
The first bit of comfort was the bread, a dense and tangy rye served with whipped butter. The dark bread had a nice solid crust with a soft and chewy interior. Heavenly.
Then came the Beef and Spinach Pierogies with Caraway Cream. The al dente dough was wrapped around a filling so moist and flavorful it simply oozed deliciousness with every bite. Buttery crumbs on top gave the dish a nice crunch, while the cream helped to smooth everything together. The tang from the caraway contrasted beautifully with the richness of the filling. A lovely little dish.
Then came the entrees. We ordered the Honey Braised Pork with Braised Cabbage, but they had run out of that so we got Short Ribs instead. This was probably the most disappointing plate. While the short ribs did fall right off the bone, they were a little dry and didn't pack the flavorful punch I've come to expect from ribs. The Braised cabbage was a nice addition, the moistness helping to balance out the drier meat. I wonder if the regular Honey Braised Pork would have been better.
My favorite dish of the evening was the Chicken Stew with Mushrooms, Cognac, and Spaetzle. This dish was utter creamy richness without tasting too heavy. There was definitely some bacon hiding in the mix for extra an salty indulgence, in addition to the soft, earthy mushrooms, the moist flavorful chicken, and the buttered spaetzle cooked to perfection. Each bite was an explosion of utter comfort and happiness. If I lived in Raleigh, this would be a great place to go any time I felt even slightly down, as no one can be sad with this much homey goodness on their plate.
We ended with the Blueberry Cheese Strudel for an additional $6.75. The cheese was the sweet kind normally found in danishes, wrapped around tangy blueberries in their own syrup. The pastry crust rolled around it was heavier then I would have expected, and while the dish was certainly tasty, I think a lighter crust would have elevated it to another level. Not that we didn't finish every bite of it;)
Overall we had a delicious meal for an even tastier price at J.Betski's. I think we could even have split all the food three ways as I was stilled tremendously full until lunch the next day. Four belt notches.
J.Betski's offers their $20 menu all night Monday-Thursday.
10 W. Franklin St. Suite 120
Raleigh, NC 27604