I had been a fan of Between for quite some time now. When anyone asked me for a nice restaurant to go to, for something special I always said Between. I’m not sure whether it’s the elegant decor, the lovely food or the extensive cocktail list. Either way Between was one of my favourite restaurants in Seoul and I was really looking forward to reviewing it.
I have decided to make this review a two parter as I went for Brunch last Saturday and for dinner last Thursday (I told you it’s my favourite).
Last Saturday, in the mood for something a bit more upmarket, I ventured to Between with my best gal pal for a lovely lunch and some champagne cocktails. Their brunch menu has a good amount of lunch and breakfast items ranging from Eggs Benedict, omelets, pancakes, salads, sandwiches, and pastas. There is certainly something there for everyone.
I ordered the omelet with sun-dried tomatoes, potatoes, and grilled vegetables (14,000). The omelet was not quite what I was expecting presentation wise, it was served like a slice a of beautiful savoury cake, with all of the flavourings inside rather than on the side. It was served with a nice side salad. Although more like a tortilla than an omelet, it was very tasty and the perfect amount for a brunch prior to an afternoon of day drinking. Carbs put me off my drinking game, so this was perfect for me.
I also ordered a Bloody Mary. As you have probably heard countless times before from me, brunch is not complete without a Bloody Mary. However at 15,000 this one was rather steep. Although it was beautifully presented and was certainly fine, it lacked the amazing flavour I would expect it to have for that price. I can make a better one at home than this one.
I was getting rather stuck into the cocktails, a Kir Royal and a berry mojito swiftly followed. But sadly for my bank balance the cocktails at Between have really been pushed up in price. They used to all be about 10,000, or 12,000 for the special ones. Now they are all at least 14,000, ranging to 17,500, which can hit you hard when you drink as many as I do.
My dining companion opted for Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon for his lunch (17,000). Two poached eggs on chorizo mashed potato cakes, served with a side salad and hollandaise sauce. Although it was good, he said the hollandaise was just too buttery. It seems to be impossible to find a tangy hollandaise in Seoul. His egg white was also a little under done, a real faux pas in my brunching book but he was fine with it (I would have sent them back). However he was pleased that they were on top of the potato rather than bread, as he currently has a “wheat intolerance” (last month it was dairy).
We went for the dinner on a Thursday night and everything started off well. We had made a reservation as it was a special occasion and were rewarded with a free cookie for our trouble. We made our choices on the menu and waited for our food to arrive.
First up was the complimentary bread basket. It had a variety of different breads, although no-one told us what they were. They were nice enough, I do enjoy free bread.
We had decided to share a pasta dish as our starter, Fusilli Al Ragu Di Agnello 21,000. A fusilli pasta with lamb ragout, scented with orange and coriander. There were several I wanted to try but we decided upon the lamb ragu . It looked great as it arrived. I was eager to try it but the lamb seemed to be lacking in flavour I could only taste the merest hint of orange and coriander and a slight flavour from the lamb. I felt I could have made a better dish than this at home, using the lamb mince I have in my freezer. We were slightly disappointed but still looked forward to the main course ahead. The portion was also rather on the small side, fine for us as a starter to share but it’s a main dish and for 21,000 I would expect more.
No sooner was our empty plate taken away, our main dishes had arrived. We had both put our used cutlery in the empty dish but they fished it back out and gave it to us for our main dish. Niall’s was quite dirty so I really think they should have changed it. Not a huge deal, but a noticeable mistake none the less. Especially in a place that is presenting itself as fine dining.
I had ordered the Il Maiale 32,000. Slow cooked pork belly and back rib with polenta, ginger confiture and red wine sauce. It looked spectacular on the plate however the taste failed to match the appearance. I cut into the large piece of pork with some difficulty. A well cooked piece of belly pork should slice like butter, especially through the fat at least. I was also greeted with several bones at the bottom of the meat, which I would personally expect to have been removed. The belly pork was okay and did have some flavour but it wasn’t anything to write home about. It was just lacking . I ate belly pork for a Thanksgiving dinner and it blew this stuff out of the water even though it was just a piece of frozen meat cooked by a friend. I soldiered on and the ribs were fine. The polenta was as bland as could be, absolutely no taste whatsoever, the red cabbage too. The red wine jus was a small drizzle on the plate and I had to ask for more to disguise the tasteless accompaniments. I really wanted to send this dish back to the kitchen and ask for something else but wasn’t sure if tasteless would qualify as a good enough reason. I had really been looking forward to this dinner and I just felt let down.
Niall ordered the Agnello 41,000. A slow cooked lamb shoulder chop served with feta cheese, anchovy butter and mint sauce 41,000. He fared better than I did. He had what I thought was a generous helping of lamb chops and his potato accompaniment had more flavour than my polenta. However it did not match the steak and lamb we had enjoyed at Between 9 months ago.
Overall I left Between feeling disappointed. We had had some amazing food there in the past and they clearly can’t seem to replicate the quality any longer. The flair of design in the food is still there but the taste has gone. It’s all style and no substance. The prices have gone up whilst the quality has gone down. Maybe it was a bad day or too many changes in the kitchen but I would urge Between to get back to their former glory. I would still probably go to Between again for drinks or lunch as it is a nice spot. But it will no longer be my go to restaurant for special occasions. There are too many restaurants in this city to pay 128,000 for dinner and feel let down.
Between is located in Itaewon at 124-7 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 140-200 . Take a train to Itaewon Station (Line 6) and come out of exit 2 and walk straight away from the Hamilton Hotel for about 150 meters its just on your left. If you would like to make a reservation you can call them on 02-795-6164 or visit their webpage for more details.