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SHO Shaun Hergatt--Terrific at Twice the Price

About a month ago, I had my first experience with the Jean Georges prix fixe lunch. I was very impressed with the selection, quality, service and price, but didn't anticipate being able to enjoy the experience again any time in the near future, as I work downtown.

Yesterday, I found my next best thing. SHO Shaun Hergatt at The Setai is a bit of an anachronism In These Difficult Economic Times. Expensive, ambitious, elegant, edgy, sleek...this is not comfort food. It arrived right in the middle of most of us freaking right the heck out and not so much in the mood to drop $18 on an appetizer and $30 on an entree at lunch.

However. It also arrived right in the middle of a neighborhood without, in my opinion, a single credible, truly high-end dining option if you don't want steak (and even the steak places are more just solid business lunch places at this point). Now I hope very much that it makes it. Not least because they have seen fit to introduce, in my opinion, the second greatest lunch deal in town for this caliber of food.

$30 for a three course prix fixe. Three choices for each of appetizer, entree and dessert. The options change, I believe, every week. There is at least one vegetarian friendly option for each course. Yesterday, I ordered the gazpacho, the pearl barley risotto and the summer peach soup. My dining companion ordered the same appetizer and dessert, with a bacon-wrapped poussin as her entree. The gazpacho was a rough puree with a simultaneously fresh and hearty flavor. Textural contrast was provided by a base of somewhat firm strands of tomato gelee and a delicate but flavorful crouton.

Another minor anachronism when my risotto arrived--it had copious amounts of foam on it; I was tempted to call 2003! on it, but the foam subsided quickly and lovingly and mushroomingly into the risotto, which was larded with mini-mountains of hen-of-the-woods and was otherwise as I like it--firm to the bite, not soupy, etc. My companion reported that her poussin was very straightforward but intense in flavor and perfectly moist.

Summer peach soup for both of us was what it was--delicious. Dotted with touches of sorbet and other fruits. Coffee and iced tea are served with the full complement of add-ins (including simple syrup for the iced tea--thank you!).

Note that they are still going for a white glove level of service here--soups are finished at the table. A stool was provided for my purse. We were attended to with care and beautiful manners every step of the way. They also offer the regularly priced (considerably more expensive) a la carte menu at lunch, yet not once did I feel that we were receiving anything less than the full experience, even though we were doing the prix fixe and ordered no alcohol. I had also eaten dinner here earlier in the summer and was interested by the food--as I described it yesterday on another thread, it is surprising, delicate, composed and complex. I would have gone back eventually anyway for the right occasion, budget be damned. But now I want to rush back every week. If you're downtown and need a place to impress a client or conduct a discreet business meeting and you just can't take Harry's or one more trip to Bobby Van's and, most of all, you fancy the idea of eating really well in the middle of your humdrum day, I encourage you to give this place a try.

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  1. Thanks for the report, planetjess. This may be my Monday/Tuesday meal in the city. Biggest challenge will be to stick to the prix fixe which I was unable to do at EMP (can you say foie gras?).

    1. We enjoyed our first dinner at SHO Shaun Hergatt this past week.
      At $55 for two courses and $69 for three, it is the best deal in town since Corton opened with a $69 prix-fixe.
      The blue prawn stuffed zucchini blossom and the poached halibut with celeriac/truffle foam were fabulous. Service was outstanding (I cannot imagine that they will be able to maintain these prices for long: I counted eleven servers on the floor and fifteen chefs/sous-chefs/gardes-manger, etc in the kitchen).
      Highly recommended...and accessible until the Times gives it 3 stars.

      1. This Post article has some interesting background on Hergatt and the restaurant:


        1. I went to SHO for lunch today. The space is gorgeous. I'll report back on my experience shortly.

          12 Replies
          1. re: financialdistrictresident

            The three course $30 prix fixe lunch is a great deal for this exciting food. Go before it ends! That said, I decided to pass on the prix fixe and ordered three appetizers for lunch, had the suggested sherry with the duck consomme and a glass of malbec with my quail. Wines by the glass are limited. I didn't get a chance to look at the wine list. There is a light bar menu and the space is inviting for cocktails and a snack after work or for any other reason. This is not a place for those only seeking quantity. Now on to the Asian modern French food (please note my descriptions don't even begin to do the food justice):

            *Spiced double duck consomme with ravioli (chicken and truffle stuffed) - this broth was amazing
            *Zucchini blossoms filled with blue prawns with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf scented sambal - these small, delicate, fried squash blossoms were fabulous. I have never had stuffed squash blossoms like these before. The presentation was perfect.
            *Red chili and coconut milk glazed quail, shittake, wilted tetragonia (New Zealand spinach) with poached quail egg - another perfect presentation. Quail was tender. Flavors were superb.

            This is one of those rare dining experiences. . . Exciting tastes, perfect presentation, excellent service in a peaceful, gorgeous space. I too am wishing the best for SHO and hopeful that FiDi is ready for fine dining of this caliber.

            1. re: financialdistrictresident

              I am so glad you enjoyed it--I was waiting with a bit of baited breath for your reaction...

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                Just made a reservation for dinner in early October. Has anyone been back? How is SHO doing these days?

                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  Went again last night. Had the $69 three course dinner. Sommelier selected different wines to accompany each course (3 oz. pours @ $8-$10). She is very knowledgeable and the wine service made our meal even more enjoyable. We had:


                  *Hand picked peekytoe crab with galangal gelee Santa Barbara Uni - very fresh, I probably would not get this again

                  *Red chili and coconut milk glazed quail, shiitake duxelle, wilted tetragonia - had this before, my friend had it for the first time last night. Delicious.


                  *Roasted Maine lobster, creamy white polenta, burgundy jus - very good. My friend commented that the portion was on the small side considering there was a $10 supplement. SHO is not for eaters seeking American size portions. We left satisfied, probably could not have handled five courses.

                  *NY squab, duck rillette parcel, sautee foie gras and rosella gel - excellent, would order again in a heart beat.

                  The squab and quail were the best dishes, IMHO. Desserts were also very good.

                  If I remember the wines, amuse, desserts, etc. I'll report back. The truffles with salted caramel centers were a favorite . The orange macaroons were okay.

                  Another very good dining experience in a beautiful, zen-like room.

                  1. re: financialdistrictresident


                    I totally agree!

                    We had dinner at SHO S.H. last week. The cuisine is sensational! Mr. R. & I both had the quail and the squab. Added a cheese course and shared two desserts. Hors d'oeuvres and an amuse to start and a variety of mignardises at the finish book-ended a perfect meal. Service was cordial, polished, and attentive. The chairs are super-comfortable, and the space is wonderful.

                    Btw, the pastry chef, Mina Pizarro, was previously at Veritas, so no surprise to us that desserts are delectible!

                    Photos of our meal can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                    1. re: RGR

                      We're headed back for our second visit this week.
                      Is the prix-fixe still $55 (2 courses) and $69 (3 courses)?

                      1. re: famdoc

                        The 3-course prix fixe is still $69, but looking at the website, it appears they've eliminated the 2-course option.


                        1. re: RGR

                          We didn't see a two course option last night. Three course, five course or five course with wine.

                          1. re: financialdistrictresident


                            BTW, Open Table is offering 1000 dining points for SHO reservations, instead of the usual 100. Wonder why...but may be worthwhile booking through OT if you try to accumulate points and are an OT regular.

                            1. re: famdoc

                              Thanks, famdoc. I generally book through opentable.com. Can you believe I'm thinking about going back on Saturday night? Unless I can come up with a better idea where reserving won't make me crazy.

                              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                Our second visit was as enjoyable as our first. Indeed, the two-course prix-fixe is no more. Three course is $69. Menu has changed significantly since the summer. Highlight for me was an app of Australian hiramasa served over a scallop carpaccio in a rice vinegar emulsion. The scallop was pounded flat to a nearly six-inch diameter (see photo below). This was a wonderful preparation, with the hiramasa as good as any sashimi you'll find and the scallop had a subtle Asian taste. The trout app was a work of art: a cylinder of belly trout topped with trout roe. Most at our table chose the cod main course, which was generously portioned.

                                Service was attentive. Emilie, the sommeliere, again helped us enjoy our meal with outstanding wine pairings.

                                The restaurant employs a gaggle of staff. Given its size, the quality of food and the size of the staff, it's hard to imagine the prix-fixe staying at $69 for very long. So, make your way downtown while this bargain is still offered.

                                1. re: famdoc

                                  I absolutely agree, I had a wonderful dinner at SHO two weeks ago when I was in New York, and I am recommending to all of my friends here in my country to try SHO when they visit NYC. I loved their food and service, and the price was really a bargain! :)

          2. I had a wonderful meal there, and the food was very reminiscent to me of the dearly departed Lespinasse under Gray Kunz. This is what we had:

            Slow poached egg with sunchokes and Berkshire pork cheek -- I was expecting a poached egg with a runny yolk but it was more like a soft-boiled stage. Still tasty and the pork cheeks were incredibly tender.

            Sweetbreads poele with truffle risotto and balsamic -- Really delicious. For sweetbread lovers as there's no breading in sight. Truffle risotto was perfectly cooked and the 10-year-old balsamic was a great accompaniment.

            Squab with duck rillette parcel, sauteed foie gras and rosella gel -- Squab was perfectly cooked. I think squab is my favorite game bird. Served with a pretty generous portion of foie gras.

            Veal tenderloin with veal tongue, pommes anna and double cream emulsion -- Tenderloin was really tender. For me, the show stopper was the pommes anna. If only steakhouses had a side dish like this. I've been really disappointed by many of the potato sides at steakhouses (haven't been to Strip House yet for their goose fat potatoes). The pommes anna would go so well with a porterhouse.

            Cheese plate -- Good selection. If you're not a fan of stinky and stronger cheeses, my feeling is that the cheese plate is probably not for you. But as I am a fan, it was perfect for me.

            Java cremeaux with apricot croustillant -- Well done, perfectly sweetened.

            The canapes, amuse and mignardises were also pretty generous and quite lovely. I LOVED the salted caramel truffle. I must have as I ate three of them! The meal was quite a bargain at $69. I think the squab had a $10 supplement. And there's an open kitchen which adds to some entertainment.

            A great experience. Service was well-intentioned but kind of forced. I also had a bit of difficulty understanding some of the waitstaff's pronunciations of some items. But overall a really nice addition to the NYC restaurant scene. But I hope people take advantage of the low price now. I read somewhere that they plan to keep their profit margin pretty low the first year to get customer loyalty. So I'm thinking prices will go up after a while. I will definitely be back, even at higher prices. And the 1,000 point Open Table bonus is also great!

            Strip House
            13 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

            1. Just went to Sho for the first time and enjoyed the experience. We had:

              1. Three capanes: (a) poached quail and caviar on a round crouton; (b) goat cheese with chives, I think, between tuiles; and (c) a lobster mousse with gelee. (These are my unofficial translations of what we had. The fellow who announced the dishes had a very quiet voice and mostly addressed my SO throughout dinner, so I didn't hear the full descriptions.) My poached quail egg -- which looked beautifully soft -- made a run for it as the waiter was setting the plate down, much to his embarrassment. The wait staff kindly replaced it with another quail egg, but it was a hard boiled one, sadly. I really should've picked the first egg off the table and eaten it: he would've been less embarrassed (at least on his own behalf) and I would've gotten my lovely, soft poached egg!

              Flavors were all interesting and distinctive. The goat cheese with tuile was my favorite, very delicately flavored and attention grabbing at the same time. The lobster mousse was a VERY generous portion. I might not have wanted my appetizer had I eaten it all.

              2. Amuse of hamachi tartare with soy / ginger dressing. Very nice dressing -- great flavor -- but it sort of overwhelmed the delicate flavor of hamachi. The hamachi had also been sitting in the sauce long enough to 'cook' a bit, so was not as tender as it could've been.

              3. Appetizers. I had the "hand picked" peekytoe crab (I guess hand picked out of the crab legs?) with galangal gelée and santa barbara uni. The crab was finely chopped and mixed with tobiko, shaped into three 'eggs'; galangal gelee came as a very thin, delicately flavored layer, placed carefully over each 'egg'; and each 'egg' was garnished with a tiny sliver of uni.

              This was my favorite dish of the evening. All the ingredients were impeccably fresh and flavorful, including the uni, which was a pleasant surprise (given that even very nice restaurants like Picholine and Daniel have served uni that tasted off to me). All of the flavors were extremely complimentary, each enhancing, but never overshadowing the others.

              My SO had the red chili and coconut milk glazed quail with shiitake duxelle and wilted tetragonia. The bite that I had of the quail breast was lovely, subtly sauced, moist. The duxelle was well made. The bite of the drumstick I had was oversauced, however, with something that tasted similar to nuoc leo with coconut milk added. I'm sure the meat was wonderful, underneath (it seemed crisp and moist -- fried?), so it was a shame that I couldn't really taste it under all that sauce. Tetragonia was a nice foil (color-wise and taste-wise). Wish there'd been a teeny bit more of it and maybe less quail. Portions are very generous for this style of restaurant, in general.

              4. Mains. I had caramelized Scottish salmon with hon shemiji, tatsoi and Thai basil froth. This dish was wonderful aromatherapy and the basil froth was wonderful to eat, too. I have to take a bit of issue with the salmon, though, which came as a thick, huge medallion. Not only was it 'fishy' (so odd, given that the more fragile uni was perfect!), but despite being cooked medium rare -- correctly cooked this way by the look of it -- it tasted oddly dry in the mouth. There was little if any seasoning other than salt, so I'm not sure I understand where the caramelization was supposed to've come into the dish. The hon shemiji and tasoi were thoughtful garnishes for the salmon, but both were oversalted. This could've been such a wonderful dish, I think -- the combination of ingredients is so intelligent -- but it just was not well executed in my case.

              My SO had the roasted Maine lobster with polenta and Burgundy jus. This was perfectly cooked with a small pool of lovely soft polenta and an absolutely beautiful jus. This dish was as well made as some I've had at Le Bernardin.

              5. Dessert was a banana millefuille with lime mousse and coconut sorbet and a Tahitian vanilla something -- mousse (?) with walnut tuile. Both were light, not overly sweet and a lovely way to end the meal. The flavors in the banana millefuille dish worked nicely together. The lime was very subtle and not in any way overwhelming.

              6. Mignardise. They brought us a tray of an apricot flavored macaron (great!!!! soft/crisp/intense flavor, though a bit too sweet), burnt marshmallow on a graham cracker (ok... probably wonderful if you like marshmallow, but I don't, really), chocolate bonbons with something that reminded me of caramel-flavored kaya on the inside (very good... wonderful crispy texture on the outsdie, but too sweet), mango jellies (again, too sweet but lovely flavor).

              The service was ... very plentiful. Everyone was so nice, but I agree with Miss Needle that it felt a little forced. Without exaggeration, I think about 10-12 different people waited on our table. On the plus side, during our meal, we saw Chef Hergatt come out of the kitchen and greet a table of three older folks. He was on the floor for about two minutes in all and quickly returned to the kitchen. Good sign that he's hard at work back there.

              Decor was pretty stunning. It's lavish and modern and a bit over the top, but manages to be warmer and more comfortable to me than places like EMP. The restaurant seems like it'd a wonderful choice for a romantic event -- like an anniversary or engagement.

              Clearly a lot of thought went into this menu and combinations tend towards being both refined / restrained and very innovative. I really like the direction it's taking.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cimui

                Frak, I hate when I don't proofread properly.

                "Capanes" should be "canapes"
                "complimentary" should be "complementary"

                I'm sure there's more I missed.