A good home-cooked meal is hard to come by in college, but a new restaurant in Mount Vernon Triangle will transport you to your family’s kitchen with its European-inspired comfort food.
La Betty – which had a soft-opening in mid-March at 420 K St. NW – is the Baked and Wired team’s latest venture and first full-service restaurant. The bakers known for cult-favorite cupcakes and savory biscuit sandwiches are now serving German- and Irish-inspired fare at their new spot.
The spacious restaurant has black walls and deep blue booth seating, but fresh flowers and candles on each table bring the space to life. A bright red-orange accent wall and Persian-style rugs add a bit of brightness to the restaurant, and orb-like white light fixtures cascade from the high wooden ceilings.
After reviewing the soft-opening menu – which includes items that are still being tested out – I chose to sample from all three of the sections: “to share… or not,” “the main event” and “sides for the fam.”
Each menu item is inspired by the comfort food owner Teresa Velazquez grew up eating with her German and Irish family in Ohio, so the order of veggie corn doggies ($8) and a “big ass” pretzel ($6) did not disappoint.
I hadn’t eaten a corndog in years and even though the first bite was mostly just crunchy cornmeal batter, I enjoyed the order. The three bite-sized corn dogs were served on small skewers and a side of mustard.
While pretzels aren’t typically something I would order at a sit-down restaurant, I had high expectations because La Betty is the sister restaurant of two of my favorite bakeries, Baked and Wired and A Baked Joint. The “big ass” pretzel wasn’t as large as its menu name implied, but the dough was perfected with a doughy and chewy interior topped with large pieces of salt. A quick dip in the side of yellow mustard took the warm pretzel to the next level by adding some tanginess.
For my main dish, I opted for the “Not Yo’ Mama’s Chicken Schnitzel” ($22) topped with an arugula and radicchio salad.
My schnitzel was tender and the panko coating added a noticeable crunch that didn’t become soggy from the well-dressed salad that covered the entirety of the schnitzel.
The chef at La Betty clearly likes mustard, but I wasn’t sick of the condiment after the appetizers because the dressing added brightness and color to the dish. Although I was basically eating a fancier piece of fried chicken, I was thankful for the heaping pile of greens because they made me feel somewhat healthy.
My friend ordered “The Roast” ($26) which piles slow-roasted beef on top of a bed of spaetzle – a rich German egg noodle. Because I don’t eat beef, I only tasted a bite of the noodles, but each piece of pasta was handmade and dense.
As our entrees started to disappear from the plates, a manager brought us a sample of a new cauliflower dish, which he said was added to the menu over the weekend after one of the owners was inspired by a cauliflower taco they had in Texas.
The pieces of cauliflower were served with an almond mole sauce and cashew crema, making the entire dish vegan. Each piece was golden brown and the typically bland vegetable was transformed by the array of sauce.
When it came time for dessert, I had high expectations. I ultimately decided to go with the flourless chocolate cake ($10) and the cheesecake ($12) because I couldn’t decide between the two dishes and both were impressive.
The two desserts were day-and-night not only in the way they looked but also in the way they tasted. The flourless chocolate cake was dense and rich, and each bite was packed with an intense, deep chocolate flavor. A few pieces of flaky Maldon sea salt were sprinkled on top of the cake, which broke the sweetness of the cake, but each bite was extremely rich and left me reaching for my water glass.
On the other hand, the cheesecake was unbelievably fluffy and airy with a tiny hint of lemon. The slice was served alongside a pile of blueberry compote and a piece of graham cracker positioned sideways to keep the compote in place. The graham cracker crust balanced the softer texture of the cheesecake filling itself.
The blueberry compote, although only served on the side, brought together the entire dish, complementing the hints of lemon found in the cheesecake. As a chocolate fanatic, I thought I’d mostly focus on the chocolate cake, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the cheesecake – and it may have even been my favorite dish of the night.
The comfort food dishes at La Betty proved that the Baked and Wired team can successfully go far beyond baked goods to serve up an entire delectable dinner spread.