Those who travel the world with a particular interest in the dining arts will understand this relative scene stealer on the BeltLine, Lazy Betty. Some might not have predicted that a restaurant with such cachet and price point would land on DeKalb Avenue in an unpresumptuous setting that is difficult to label. Suffice it to say that every morsel, every flake, every sauce has been fretted over and perfected to have claimed a top spot as Atlanta magazine’s Best of Atlanta 2019 new restaurant.
Chef Aaron Phillips said, “People said we were crazy to start a seven- and 10-course tasting menu like this in Candler Park. Atlantans have now proved that they were ready.” As further proof, Eater Atlanta selected Lazy Betty as the best overall Atlanta Restaurant of the Year and National Thrillist selected them in the top 12 Best New Restaurants of 2019.
Chef Phillips grew up cooking latkes and matzo balls at his local temple in St. Louis but was enthralled by media personality chefs Emeril Lagasse and Anthony Bourdain. Phillips, a graduate of the American Culinary Institute in Hyde Park said, “By age 6 I knew I wanted to be a chef.” He took leaps by working at three Michelin star New York restaurant Le Bernardin, and Bouley at Home in Tribeca, then serving as the chef at the Four Season’s on 87th to then land in Atlanta. “At Le Bernardin, we were inspired by food from all over the world, explaining why Lazy Betty is also global. I am constantly evolving and looking towards unique flavors with Korean, Spanish or even Peruvian influences, … lately featuring Japanese black truffles, for example.”
The New York experiences introduced Phillips to Lazy Betty founder and co-chef Ron Hsu, whose mother is the eponymous “Betty.” Siblings Anita and Howard Hsu are also on the team.
Here’s how the menu works. Diners have a choice of a seven-course tasting for $125 per person or 20 diners can experience the Chef’s Counter 10-course meal for $165. There are two seatings. Note: prices include service.
Phillips is proud that gratuities are shared with the cooks and dishwashers. The restaurant seats 50. Phillips elaborated, “We don’t scuttle the whole menu seasonally, but rather insert a few new dishes at a time.”
Caviar service with steamed milk bread, scallion pancake, and cauliflower toast-sourdough melba and smoked cauliflower mousse is à la cart. Wine pairings are optional for $80 per person (seven-course) and $100 (10-course); but at that point, who’s counting shekels?
Suffice it to say that no one here is “lazy.” With the open kitchen, the culinary staff treats each dish with surgical precision and pops by to explain why which wine goes with what, keeping the atmosphere hip instead of stuffy. Once, when complimented, Phillips said, “Go ahead and lick the plate; no one here is judging.”
With champagne, pinot from Slovenia, organic riesling, Monkey Jacket red blend, and a 20-year-old port, it’s a study in itself to complement the food. Oenophiles thrill to the sommelier sounds of “decadent tropicals, raisins, orange blossom, notes of bubble gum and lemonade….” We had a tasting menu that was fish and vegetable-forward. The beet salad with granola sablé and juniper-olive oil jam emulsion was artfully arranged in a mini wreath allowing each of the three beet colors to sing.
The celeriac-truffle tortellini with parmesan fondue and herb oil was a lesson in what all the fuss is about truffles. Chef Phillips pointed out the use of the wheel of the parmesan edges.
The aji potato foam course was spiked with pepper relish and had a meaty mushroom layer instead of shrimp. Our duo of salmon with braised romaine heart in preserved lemon broth was among the very best. The fish was the size of two fingers. Fine food like this does not rely on salt; and don’t expect American portions.
Dessert was chocolate roulade with chocolate génoise, dark chocolate mousse, and quenelle of raspberry sorbet. ZING!!!! The meringue kisses did not go unnoticed.
On a personal note, Phillips announced his engagement to Lai Khamphan, the general manager of Chai Yo Modern Thai in Buckhead. As resident of Decatur, when he’s off work, Phillips might dine at Umi Sushi or The White Bull.
Lazy Betty is located at 1530 DeKalb Ave. in Candler Park.