The Team From NYC's Betony Visited San Sebastián. Here's Their Guide.

New York City's Betony has garnered extensive praise since opening less than a year ago. Chef Bryce Shuman's menu changes constantly to reflect the produce of the seasons, while General Manager Eamon Rockey (he of the house-brewed root beer) has put together one of the city's most impressive cocktail and wine lists. The pair recently embarked on a research trip to San Sebastián, Spain in order to discover the region's dishes and flavors. The small coastal city — located in the autonomous Basque Country — is world-renowned for its high concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants. Shuman and Rockey wrote in to Food Republic from the gastronomic paradise. We subsequently booked plane tickets to Spain.

Photos by Michele Brodi

What was the purpose of your trip?

To experience the cuisine and restaurant culture of the region.

What was the highlight?

The trip was definitely centered around a series of truly inspiring meals, but the single most memorable aspect of the trip was the incredible warmth and graciousness that welcomed us everywhere we went, from the pintxo bars of Old San Sebastián to the destinations tucked between the hills around Bilbao.


Gaining a pants size. For real.

Where'd you stay and what's your mini-review of the place?

We stayed at the Maria Cristina; like much of the city, this century-old hotel exudes timeless beauty and is operated by a team of kind and generous professionals.

Where did you eat?

You haven't experienced proper cheesecake until you've paid a visit to San Sebastián's Bar la Viña.

And as for Bar la Viña, one word: cheesecake.

Were there any new ingredients or products that you discovered?

There is absolutely nothing else like the "lamb skin" served at Mugaritz: a bacteria grown on tempeh and reminiscent of blue cheese and lemon.

What did you drink? 

Tons of Spanish wine and beer; most notably, estate-grown txakoli.

Did you try any standout beverages?

The estate-grown sweet txakoli with desserts at Azurmendi was one of a kind and truly delicious.

Did you receive any tips on eating there from the locals?

Go visit the family at Gran Paladar for the local scoop on drinking and dining while cryovacing a few sausages for the trip back.

How will you implement aspects of this trip at Betony?

The most impressive and actionable aspects of the trip all relate back to the idea of balance. Service can be warm and attentive while always conveying a sense of place. Likewise, food can be inventive and delicious without being fussy.

What, if anything, did you bring back?

Sausages for the managers and sous chefs!

Where do you want to travel to next, and why?

There are so many places to investigate, but South America is calling right now!

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