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Apr 23, 2011 08:38 AM

Dynamite lunch at SHO Shaun Hergatt yesterday - terrific food and excellent value

SHO Shaun Hergatt has been discussed on this board before, but I want to emphasize the incredible value it is at lunch on weekdays. I know of nothing to match it in the city (Tocqueville comes close, but I think the food at SHO is just a shade more exciting).
We had a great lunch there yesterday. First course for me a very lightly poached egg that came to the table looking like springtime in a soup bowl, with pistachio (I think) dust and edible flowers, then the waiter poured a super-creamy cold white asparagus soup around it (the soup was fab).
For him, a gorgeous mixed green salad with celeriac chips and pieces, with a creamy, mustardy dressing (not as much of a céleri rémoulade as he was expecting, but v v good).
Second course for both of us was pork that had been basically redcooked and reassembled/pressed under a piece of the skin, then cut into rectangular about 4" long by 1 1/2" wide and high portions, the skin glazed with hoisin or something similar (I was expecting pork belly from the looks of it but this was all lovely pork meat). It was served with a very few butter-braised tiny favas, a braised radish, a teenytiny potato that had been cut to look like an oval gnocco (ridges and all, I have a feeling it's a classic cut but I don't know what it's called), a cube of sharply-pickled sour apple that was very refreshing, and a rectangle of sushi rice that had been browned on one side (scallion soubise was mentioned on the menu but this was hardly a soubise and I tasted no evidence of scallion - almost everything else being tender the crispness of this was very welcome).
The pork dish could have been presented at our favorite newish Shanghai restaurant Fu 1088 and gone over big there, it was very much in the regional style (this is very, very high praise indeed). A great plate.
Desserts: for me, the caramello - chocolate mousse swathed in a chewy chocolate caramel layer and great toffee ice cream, and a bit of crisp chocolate caramel in a sort of fan design (the plate was decorated with a smear of chocolate intended to look like an ink brush stroke, I think, but not terrifically successfully) and for him the coupe exotique - a layered liquidy dessert served in a verrine, the prevailing flavor being passionfruit, with a coconut-milk foam on top and a strip of black sesame wafer. Both were excellent, we switched midway through because he's not as crazy about passionfruit as I.
Other choices on the menu that we didn't try - first course, spring potatoes done 2 ways; main courses, striped bass with mussels and mussel coulis (I like the striper, the mussels didn't appeal), and shrimp agnolotti with ramps (another thing I'm not nuts about). I forget what the third dessert was.
Wine was liberally poured throughout and up to the very end (a pour with the check) - we had the red (a Saumur, nice and cherry-y) and the white on offer was a Muscadet. Service is very professional and pleasant, not intrusive.
Lunch (3 courses) is $33 and the bottomless wine, $10. Best bargain in fine dining that I know about in the city.

SHO Shaun Hergatt
40 Broad St, New York, NY 10004

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  1. That sounds amazing! Was it crowded or do you think you could just wander in at lunchtime and get a table?

    4 Replies
    1. re: roxlet

      You could almost certainly wander in and score a table. I did the lunch there on Wednesday, and at best a third of the tables were taken at any given point when I was there.

      Great review buttertart! A few small things I would add. The lunch deal includes an amuse bouche and several additional dessert bites as well as plenty of excellent bread. I can also speak to the endless Muscadet being very pleasant and refreshing.

      I also want to emphasize how gracious the service was. When I go out to bargain lunches at nice restaurants I am used to feeling like a little bit of a second-class citizen, even when I go to EMP. SHO is the first place I have been in a long time where I felt entirely welcome and like they were happy to have me even though I was ordering the "cheap" option.

      I agree that it is an amazing deal, definitely the best in the area.

      1. re: bworm42

        Wow, I was there for lunch on Weds too, also for the prix fixe and I was equally impressed.

        1. re: bworm42

          Again re the service, no you are not made to feel like a cheapskate, which is refreshing. I know exactly what you mean about some other places having a little whiff of condescension to "bargain" diners.

        2. re: roxlet

          As others have said, definitely, there were a lot of empty tables.

          I forgot to mention the mignardises, of which we were served two (and no amuse-bouche before incidentally, not that we missed it) - at dinner they have a wonderful array (still remember a white chociolate passionfruit truffle). This time we were served two tiny lemon meringues that tasted like a distillation of the pie, and two milk chocolates with a candied almond in them - very good chocolate, as I can attest, at the moment being awash in Swiss Easter chocolates my trainee's mom and dad sent.

          As far as service was concerned, we were well taken care of (this time in the first dining room by the window, away from the main traffic pattern - we had sat at the first banquette to the right of the entrance to the dining room with a view of the kitchen the other two times and it was maybe a little better then. But far be it from me to fault them when the sommelier brought fresh glasses for our last glass of wine, because they had run out of the Saumur and gave us another one. And the check had already been presented by that point.

          Very happy we went and can't wait to go back.

        3. Awesome review buttertart! Gald you So enjoyed. Definitely jealous

          1. Wow! That sounds great. I love SHO but have only been for dinner. I think it's time to try the lunch. Just had lunch at Tocqueville today and it was excellent, but I could imagine SHO being even better.

            1 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

            1 Reply
            1. re: rrems

              Love Tocqueville too but I do think the cooking at SHO has a bit of an edge, at least based on my last experience at T and the dinner and 2 lunches I had at SHO.

            2. I am glad you had such a good experience. I always enjoy the food, but I find the service to be quite variable (which IMO is pretty unacceptable at a restaurant of this caliber, but I would always prefer sub-par service and great food than the opposite).

              I know it has been menitoned here before, but for anyone seeing this thread, also consider the Closing Bell dinner, which is a three-course dinner that changes every week. It's only available in the Pearl room (the bar room, which I tend to prefer anyway) Monday through Friday 5:30 pm to close. It's a fantastic value and the menu is generally available on the News / Events portion of the site.

              4 Replies
              1. re: IntrepidNook

                I've had my eye on that dinner too, one of these days soon!

                1. re: buttertart

                  Sounds interesting. I went once for lunch last year and was actually planning on going back for lunch this week. Even more excited after I saw your post Buttertart. Will report back for sure.

                  1. re: ChiefHDB

                    Looking forward to hearing about your experience.

                2. re: IntrepidNook

                  I like the Closing Bell dinners too. The only problem is discovering a dish that you really like and then it being gone the next week.

                3. Wonderful review! I'm almost never in this area so I keep forgetting about this restaurant. Thanks for the reminder.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: uwsister

                    Thank you! It's a bit off the beaten path for non-Financial District people, but definitely worth getting down to.