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Sep 17, 2009 05:33 AM

Birthday Dinner, Aldea or SHO Shaun Hergatt?

So for this birthday dinner, I'm trying to decide between Aldea and SHO.

We are comfortable at either place, but definitely enjoy eating at the pass whenever possible, so Aldea gets a point up there.
Has anyone had the chef's tasting at Aldea? Is it comprised of menu items, or some off the menu items? Is it set, or could we possibly get different dishes, so we could share them?
Does SHO have a tasting, or just a 2/3 course option?

How do wine lists compare? Decent offerings in the 50-80 range at both places? I didn't see wine lists on SHO's site.

I'm sure we'd be happy with either one, but some last minute help could sway my reservation to one place to the other.


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  1. How many people is this for? If it is just 2 or 3 I would sit at the chefs table at the kitchen at Aldea. Wonderful food, service and you are right in the action.

    1. We have been to Aldea twice, the second time just this past Monday, and needless to say, the food is excellent! Both time, we ordered a la carte. The tasting menu is comprised of dishes from the regular menu, two choices for each course. Thus, if you each get a different dish for each course, you can end up trying ten different dishes. The Arroz de Pato, which has quickly become Chef Mendes' signature dish, is on the tasting and, imo, is not to be missed! Chef Mendes is one of the nicest guys around, and I'm sure if you wanted to switch out any of the offerings, he will happily do it.

      My husband is the wine drinker, and he speaks highly of the Portuguese wines he's had at Aldea.

      If you want to sit at the counter facing the kitchen (we plan to do that next time), you can request it when you reserve.

      We have not yet been to SHO, but it is high on my "go to" list.

      1. SHO does have a five course tasting menu which I think was around $95, and includes all of the chef's signature dishes. There were also plenty of bottles in the 50-80 range, and the sommelier was very helpful.

        1. To clarify, it is just two people dining. I have reservations at both currently, but think I will call Aldea today and try and move our seats to the kitchen counter.
          Think we'll try and make it to SHO in the coming month, as Aldea seems a tad more relaxed, and I think that is what we are looking for right now.
          It is nice to see we can choose different dishes, as we typically like switching plates.

          2 Replies
          1. re: UWSEater

            Note that there is a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall glass partition between the dining room of SHO and the kitchen. In particular, there is a table for two that is right up against this wall--this is, to me, just as good as eating at the pass, and now I have requested this table a few times--you can literally see the whole kitchen. Love this place.

            1. re: UWSEater


              My profuse apologies! I was mistaken about Aldea's tasting menu. I have not actually seen it and based my description on something I saw on another food forum which, as it turns out, I misread. Though I was correct that all the dishes are taken directly from the regular menu, there is only ONE option for each course. You can, if you wish, supplement in additional dishes from the regular menu, and Chef Mendes will adjust them to tasting portion size. I hope this will not change your decision to go to Aldea because I think you will really enjoy dining there.

            2. Well, I just wrote up a whole review only to hit refresh, and lose everything I just entered.
              So now I'll just write a quick summary of our courses, and an overall impression from the meal.
              1. Sea Urchin Toast - Farm Egg
              Both solid dishes, perfectly fresh uni, great composition of flavors.
              2. Gazpacho - Mackerel
              Once again, solid dishes, probably the best course of the night. Both had a fresh, bright bursting with summer aspect to them.
              3. Shrimp Alhinho - Peas and Bacon
              Shrimp were disappointing, a little overcooked, and sauce was oily and bland. Peas and bacon were very good, but truffle added surprisingly little flavor or aromatics to the dish.
              4. Supposed to be Foie Terrine (never came)
              5. Wild Bass - Arroz de Pato
              Bass was a little overcooked, almost dry in spots. Sort of ruined other components on the dish. Arroz de pato was good, not great. Thought the sweet sauce/puree added some needed brightness to the dish, but the cracklings also lent a nice textural difference at that point. This is also when the foie dish finally arrived as well, so we sent the it back.
              6. Chevre Parfait - Toasted Brioche
              Both solid desserts. Chevre had a great taste, and was not overpowering in any way. The brioche was just sweet enough for me, but with enough savory components on the plate to not be overwhelming.

              We had a nice Porca de Murca Touriga with dinner, and it was a great suggestion from the waitress.
              Not sure if I'd be back for dinner. The large proteins were just not cooked well, and the service flaws kind of ate at me after the meal (foie coming late, not being taken off the bill without asking). I wanted to like Aldea more, as I heard good things about it, and maybe we caught it on a bad night, but I think I have a lot more places I want to try before I'm going back.

              1 Reply
              1. re: UWSEater

                I convinced my husband to meet me at Aldea for dinner one night, because of all of the positive reviews I have read about this place on chow hound, and unfortunately we will not be returning. I order the SEA URCHIN TOAST (cauliflower cream, sea lettuce, lime) app, which I find innovative but a bit to spicy, overpowering of the mild uni flavor I have come to love. My husband had the ARROZ DE PATO (duck confit, chorizo, olive, duck cracklings), probably the best dish of the night, satisfying but not terribly mind blowing. I ordered the NIMAN RANCH PORK LOIN (smoked yellow corn, manila clams, scallion-ramp glaze), which I’m told was cooked sous vide. So unbelievably salty, it tasted like a bad cut of deli ham and the wine the server paired with it was good on its own, but could not stand up to the unbelievably smoky flavor coming from the dish. My husband went to speak to chef Mendes and he couldn’t care less about our disappointment, we skipped desert and moved on.