crafted sign

Things didn't get off to a stellar start at Crafted Block & Brew, a MetroWest eatery that opened in early August. Beer, one would guess from the name, would be a focus of the menu, at least the bar menu. But when my guest and I were seated we were surprised to see that no beers were listed on the menu we were given.

My companion stood and walked over to a server who was entering information into the POS system nearby and asked if there was a beer menu. The young man looked up briefly and said, "They're at the hostess stand," then went back to the task at hand.

That is never the right answer when a guest asks for something that is in the server's power to fulfill.

And, by the way, they weren't at the hostess stand, either, as my friend discovered after walking across the restaurant to fetch one. Eventually, one was found.

Betony InteriorPhoto: Betony

It was serendipitous but entirely appropriate that I dined at Betony, a restaurant in midtown Manhattan, on the day that I did. On that very evening, on the other side of the country, Hubert Keller was conducting his final dinner service at Fleur de Lis. The meal that I had at that San Francisco restaurant is among the most memorable I've had. Now I can add the dinner at Betony to that list.

Betony, which opened in spring of 2013, is a project of several refugees of the estimable Eleven Madison Park, including executive chef Bryce Shuman and Eamon Rockey, Betony's general manager. Shuman, who was Eleven Madison Park's executive sous chef, has created an intriguing menu that is presented in an understated and austere way.

Betony lobsterTubular lobster rolls.

The description of the lobster roll hors d'oeuvre, for example, gives no clue that this is not a Boston harbor kind of roll. Instead it features a cigar-shaped tube with a sort of lobster cream filling. Perfectly cylindrical, no oozing lobster salad, but loads of flavor.

Kappo Spiny LobsterLordfer Lalicon dismantles a spiny lobster at Kappo at East End Market. Nothing will go to waste.

Just after I sat down on a stool at Kappo — one of only seven seats at this cubby-hole sushi bar at East End Market — I watched one of the owners rip apart a fresh spiny lobster. A few minutes later, its tail meat had been seared with a blowtorch and was part of my sashimi selection. And shortly after that its brain was floating in my soup. In case you haven't gathered, Kappo is not your typical sushi joint.

Kappo is owned by Jennifer Benagale, Lordfer Lalicon and Mark Vyan Berdin. All three have impressive resumes that would belie their youthfulness, with such well-known restaurants as Blue Hill, Morimoto, the Oak Room and Aquavit scattered among the three. Lalicon was part of the opening team at Carbone in New York; Benegale and Vyan Berdin were on the staff at Umu in the Mayfair section of London. All three are graduates of the University of Florida. It was while working together at an Asian restaurant in Gainesville that they met.