Lazy Betty will likely be one of the most ambitious restaurants to open this year in Atlanta. The tasting menu-driven restaurant, located in the former Radial Cafe in Candler Park, opens Tuesday, February 26. It’s owned by siblings chef Ronald Hsu and Howard and Anita Hsu (Sweet Auburn BBQ) and chef Aaron Phillips. Ronald Hsu and Phillips worked together for years at chef Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin in New York City.
For Hsu, an Atlanta native, Lazy Betty is not only a homecoming, but a chance to finally open his dream restaurant.
The restaurant, comprising of two tasting menus and a small selection of à la carte dishes, melds fine dining and elegance with relaxed casualness. Hsu realizes not everyone will “get” his food or what he’s trying to achieve at Lazy Betty. But, not taking this leap of faith just wasn’t an option. Lazy Betty allows Hsu to “shoot the breeze” and engage with diners on a personal level, and to strip away the stuffy barriers often associated with restaurants serving tasting menus.
It’s a family affair at Lazy Betty. Diners will likely see the restaurant’s namesake, Candler Park resident, and former Atlanta restaurateur, Betty Hsu, strolling through the dining room with her hot pink hair, greeting guests before heading back into the kitchen to keep watch over the staff. Howard and Anita Hsu split their time between running day-to-day operations at Sweet Auburn BBQ in Poncey-Highland and helping their brother and Phillips at Lazy Betty when they can.
Regulars to Radial Cafe will find the footprint unchanged. Hsu and Phillips lightened up the once dark space by taking out the clunky wooden booths in the front of the restaurant and painting the ceiling and red brick walls a crisp white and ocean blue. The chef’s counter overlooks the now open kitchen.
The restaurant is broken up into three distinct dining spaces: a front lounge where the à la carte menu will eventually be served, the eight-seat chef’s counter where Hsu and Phillips spend most of their time creating a ten-course meal, and a small dining room in back reserved for the restaurant’s “Lazy Betty” menu. For now, the chefs plan to allow walk-ins for the “Lazy Betty” menu in the lounge until they launch the à la carte menu in the spring.
Tables and chairs, which Hsu’s sister helped procure, lean contemporary and minimalist. A leather L-shaped couch punctuates the lounge, while a long banquette lines the back wall in the main dining room. Mirrors capture the light in the small back room, giving the illusion of a larger space. A 3D art installation, by artist Jenifer Thoem, of a flock of high fire stoneware clay birds flies above it.
The Tasting Menus
Lazy Betty’s two tasting menus include the five to seven course “Lazy Betty” and an elaborate ten courses, served only at the chef’s counter by Hsu and Phillips. A vegetarian tasting menu is also available, but must be reserved in advance. Wine pairings are optional.
Hsu weaves his Chinese-Malaysian heritage into the French dishes and techniques he and Phillips mastered during their time at Le Bernardin. The charred octopus with fermented black beans on the “Lazy Betty” menu was the first dish Hsu put onto the menu at Le Bernardin. It’s a take on a fond childhood favorite Hsu recalls eating of mussels or shrimp in black bean sauce — a classic Chinese combination filled with strong flavors he tempers with peaches and an aromatic sauce.
The dish the partners are most excited to share with diners is the “Truffle Hunting” in Georgia terroir, comprising of a pomme puree infused with a mix of reduced red wine, brown butter, herbs, and black peppercorns. A small casserole dish is then lined with the mixture, representing Georgia red clay. Thinly sliced truffles are placed above the red clay and layered with purple potato crumbs. Finally, mushrooms and carrots are nestled into the “soil.”
Lazy Betty’s kitchen comes equipped with a wok station, a raw fish station, and a hearth burning pecan and hickory woods, rosemary twigs, and even Binchō-tan Japanese charcoal when needed. The hearth is key to dishes requiring a quick smoke such as the wagyu steak and eggs, the charred octopus, and certain preparations of duck on the menu.
Hsu and Phillips do not plan to offer the tasting menu on the patio, which opens this spring for drinks and à la carte dishes. Reservations are highly encouraged for the chef’s counter ($165 per person) and “Lazy Betty” ($125 per person) tasting menus. Gratuity is included in the price. The lounge is open for walk-ins.
Open Tuesday - Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
1530 DeKalb Avenue, Atlanta. lazybettyatl.com.