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Designed by local wunderkind Andre Fu, St. Betty is restaurateur Alan Yau’s first Hong Kong venture. It used to be known as Bettys Kitschen but thankfully, the unwieldy name has been changed. Filled of natural light and full harbour views, St. Betty is chic yet relatively casual. Private tables at the back of the restaurant are enclosed by an entire back wall is covered by potted greenery, which also affords a glimpse into the large, glass-encased kitchen.
Chef Shane Osborn’s menu shows clearly his Antipodean roots, with light, seafood-focussed starters dominating the appetiser section. We opt to try two: a home-smoked hamachi, and a seared ocean trout. The hamachi was not as light as we would have thought, as both the smoky flavour and the sesame dressing bordered on intense. The natural taste of the fish gets a bit lost, as do the avocado and daikon. A lighter hand with this dish would do wonders. Our seared ocean trout was better, nicely crispy on the outside and still rare in the middle. It came with new potatoes, sour cream and pickled cucumbers, which worked together as a very coherent dish. For mains, our braised short rib was a thick, succulent cube of fork-tender beef, and it was fatty, hearty and utterly delicious. Covered with a soubise sauce made with shiitake mushrooms and accompanied by bok choi and red wine sauce, this is an excellent if again, strongly flavoured dish. Our other main was a pink snapper: the fish itself was a touch on the firm side, but we absolutely loved the butternut squash that accompanied it. With a touch of deep-fried sage, it showed that Osborn’s talents lie beyond just meat and fish. For dessert, the signature dark chocolate crème is indeed creamy and rich, and the peanut ice cream appropriate salty. The dish came with some stewed cherries, which we would have liked if they were just a touch more sour, to lend another flavour profile to the dish.
Wines by the bottle are categorised by region and includes a good range from both the old and new world. There aren’t as many big name bottles here as you would get in a five-star hotel, but the selection is by no means shabby, with a number of Ornnelaias from Italy and even a bottle of 2004 Lafleur Pomerol. Mainly though, the list is reasonably priced and wines by the glass are decent, and quite strong on dessert wines.
Service at St Betty was very good, especially if served by one of the managers. Our server was particularly knowledgeable about the menu, and downright enthusiastic with his recommendations. Dishes were cleared efficiently and not intrusively, and overall, there was not much we could find fault with service-wise.
A three-course meal for two with a glass of wine each comes to about HK$1,700. Considering the prime location of the restaurant, plus the quality of the dishes, we find this to be exceptionally good value.