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SHO Shaun Hergatt Review: Exceptional Food To Be Savored

As usual, full review with photos on the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

First of all, I made my reservation using Savored, which was also mentioned in another post. I visited a couple of weeks before my reservation to see if anything was off limits with the discount. In that regard, SHO's Reservations and Training Manager Heather was extremely pleasant and helpful. I found out that while we could not ask for some specially created extended tasting, the discount would apply to the prix fixe or the tasting menu, and was still applicable when we decided to have the tasting menu and supplement a course from the prix fixe.

First, a mention of the service. While the service was not bad, it left much to be desired for a restaurant with food of this caliber. I did not like that some of the people who brought food had accents that made it hard to hear them describe the dish (something that I mentioned back in my 2009 review http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/676270), and in one case they didn't even bother with the description of the dish. At the end of the meal, we were hoping to get to thank the chef in person and discuss one of the dishes, but he was on the phone, and after we waited for a while, there was no further update. There was definitely a bright point though in Marissa, who was engaging and helped us pick out some wonderful wines. I think she is the co-wine director, as her name is listed on the online wine list. However, I also saw her bringing out dishes to some tables, which kind of muddles her role in my mind. That, in essence, is what I feel is missing about the service at SHO. A sense of order. A hierarchy of server, captain, manager, etc.

The food, most importantly, was exceptional. We had the tomato-centric tasting menu, supplemented a fish course, and replaced a couple of dishes to cater to dietary restrictions. Everything was tasty with some smart and interesting touches.

We started with a selection of canapes. A small shot glass of pea puree with coconut foam was light and refreshing. There were also fried balls of potato and a little foie gras. The foie gras flavor wasn't particularly strong, and overall it had a nice beignet-like taste even though it was savory.

After the canapes, we had a small amuse. It was a sweet prawn with masago and was fresh and light, although not particularly intense in flavor.

The bread selection was quite good, with white, multi-grain, and rosemary olive rolls. My favorite was the multi-grain, which had robust flavor and texture from the seeds on the outside while the inside was soft and warm. The real winner though, was the truffle butter. Among the best we've ever had with a perfect combination of creaminess and truffle flavor. We ended up having about 5 servings total for the 3 of us.

CARPACCIO OF ROMA TOMATO CONFIT Simple, familiar, tastes were given ingenious textural twists. The tomato confit was peeled and oven-baked, allowing it to have an intensified flavor along the lines of sun-dried tomatoes, while remaining very juicy. Even better, the juices were contained in the bite of the carpaccio itself instead of leaking away. Also on the plate were small mounds of goat cheese panna cotta, which had a smooth, silky texture.

OVEN ROASTED TOMATO AND FENNEL SOUP The soup was fine, but the interesting components of the dish were a tomato gelee underneath the soup and a green basil espuma which combined for an interesting mix of textures. I think another component with a crispy texture would have really completed the dish. In addition, the garnishes on the peeled tomatoes were both very pretty and provided subtle hints of flavor.

TOMATO OIL CONFIT PRAWN The tomato oil and prawn smelled wonderful and was very well cooked. The sweet prawn went well with the warm tomato oil and was livened by a tomato and kaffir lime leaf sambal.

SALT PRESSED PETUNA OCEAN TROUT My friend DC could not have the prawn, so they presented this dish of alternating chilled slices of ocean trout and pear. It was quite good, and an especially fitting cold starter. None of us had tried or even thought of this fish and pear combination before, but it works.

SOUS VIDE EAST COAST HALIBUT Perfectly cooked, this was a robust piece of fish sauced nicely with a black olive oil and a cherry tomato vinaigrette. However, I felt that this was probably the least special of the dishes.

CRISPY DIAMONDS OF BRANZINO This was the dish that we added because that's how we roll. Perfectly cooked with crispy skin and flaky flesh, the accompanying liquid arugula, kalamata olive, and baby cucumbers were a fantastic combination of flavors and textures coming together in harmony in each bite.

UPSTATE NEW YORK QUAIL Absolutely wonderful. For the tomato-centric menu that had been fairly light up to this point, this was the perfect last savory course. The quail flavor was strong yet warm and comforting. The meat was soft and juicy but with a good biting texture that gave way to the foie gras on the inside. The foie gras managed not to dominate the quail flavor, but instead accentuated the flavors by adding a fattiness and a creamy finish to each bite.

CHILLED FINGERLING ESPUMA WITH COLD GNOCCHI, QUAIL EGGS, AND KAVIARI CAVIAR My friend couldn't have the quail, and instead went with a cold appetizer to end the savory courses. This was another example of innovative textures with familar flavor combinations. The cold potato and caviar is a classic, and the quail eggs did a nice job of bringing it all together.

SATUR FARMS YELLOW TOMATO SORBET Our pre-dessert was relatively simple and tasted exactly like what it was supposed to be.
TRISTAR STRAWBERRIES, TOMATO ESPUMA, AGED BALSAMIC Again a relatively simple dessert. The strawberries were sweet and went well with the tomato espuma, although I didn't think the balsamic was necessary.

CHOCOLATE CREMEUX WITH HONEYCOMB AND MILK ICE CREAM We were just there to have a good meal, but during our quail course, my friend mentioned that we should just consider this meal an early birthday celebration as we had ordered some of her favorite wines. This was just in passing conversation, but they must have overheard and thoughtfully brought this extra dessert with "Happy Birthday" written in chocolate on the plate. This was delicious, with two different textures from the chocolate on top and the honeycomb inside. The milk ice cream was perfect in bridging those two components.

CHOCOLATES AND PETIT FOURS An okay selection.

Speaking of wine, SHO has a very impressive high end wine list, including 4 DRCs. And they aren't even the most expensive bottles! Browsing through the list online, they have a bottle listed at $15000. For our meal, we started with a Laurent Perrier Rosé, Tours-Sur-Marne, followed by the Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, 'Le Grand Maupertuis,' Domaine Anne Gros 2004 for the meal proper, and ended with a Riesling Beerenauslese, H. Boch, 'Trittenheimer Apotheke,' Mosel, which held up well to both the strawberries and the chocolate.

Looking back at my 2009 review, the food really has always been exceptional at SHO. Now that there's a 30% discount involved, it's as good a time as any to pay a visit.

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

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  1. I've wondered about the tomato tasting, so I really appreciate your excellent, detailed review though at this point, I'm not sure we'll have a chance to try it. We've had dinner four times at SHO, and I agree with you that the cuisine is exceptional. Marissa was our sommelier the last time we dined there and, again, I agree that she is terrific. As for service overall, perhaps we've been lucky, but all four times, it was pleasant, professional, and problem-free.

    SHO photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

    http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

    12 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      Do you recommend the tasting menu , or ordering a la carte? i'm going tonite, and not sure what to order, seems the dishes are large in size. Any suggestions will be appreciated

      1. re: foodwhisperer

        There hasn't been an a la carte menu at SHO for quite some time. It's either a 4-course prix-fixe for $85 or a 5-course prix-fixe for $100. I've heard that some dishes carry a supplement. We haven't dined there since spring of last year, so I can't offer you any suggestions as to what to order. I hope you will report back about your dinner.

        Note: Marissa is no longer at SHO. She is now at Tocqueville.

        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

        1. re: RGR

          Thanks for the quick reply, because I have a 7 30 reservation. Ii'll report back, i'd do pics but i dont know how to post pictures. I'm low tech. I will tell Marco at Tocqueville that Merissa is adored by many. the website of Sho , has some really nice pictures of the food. I'm glad i got a last minute reservation. Minetta's was the original plan, but couldnt get in until 9. that was too late for me. I'll be back here later. Thanks again

          1. re: foodwhisperer

            And I was thnking I might be too late! :) Not that I was of much help.... If I were choosing from the current menu, I'd go with foie gras, agnolotti, lobster, guinea hen, and lemon meringue. Looking forward to hearing what you pick. and how it all turns out.

            Re: Merissa. SHO's loss is definitely Tocqueville's gain.

            Btw, even though it was too late for you, I'm surprised there was a table at Minetta at 9 p.m. on a Friday, which is pretty much prime time.

            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

            1. re: RGR

              I just returned from Sho. I decided not to drive and take a cab, the cab got lost haha. Anyway it is in the Setai hotel, very nice hotel. Sho itself is a very charming room. The lounge area is wide open and comfortable. The staff very friendly. As you enter the restaurant you walk thru rows of bottles of wines behind the glass for your viewing. The tables are not on top of one another , so it is quite comfortable and you can have a conversation without distrubing others or overhearing other conversations.
              The meal started with 2 amuses, I am sorry if my descriptions won't be up to par with the better reviewers here. i.e. Kathryn, RGR. I don't write things down, and the servers, most of whom had some kind of accent and that plus using food terms I may not be familiar with, made it difficult to understand exactly what the dish was. One amuse was similar to a thin version of chawanmushi with some truffle oil and foam, it had a delicious taste. One mishap was, one of our party picked up the glass the amuse was in and the glass split in half. Weirdest thing.
              The second amuse was a type of coconut truffle dish. The bread they served was excellent, served with 3 types of butter all delicious, and soft enough to spread easily.They seem to love truffles here, well, who doesn't? one of the butters had truffle flavor. We , three of us, had the 5 course tasting menu. They told us if someone had 4 courses , everyone had to order 4 courses. They also offered us a 10 course for $200 a person. It did not make sense, since it would be smaller dishes than the 5 course and double the price. No one could eat double the 5 course menu. I am stuffed as I write this. The wine list, although impressive, was for lack of a better word, "unfriendly". I do love good wines. And luckily i have had the opportunity to have tasted some of the wines on the wine list that were over $4000, years ago when wines were much more affordable. The most expensive wine was $15000. It was a Petrus, which is delicious , but for that kind of money , you can fly to Paris, eat and have a nice wine and fly back, with enough money left to go to Tocqueville. They should have had a few wines in the #45-$80 category. They had very few, and then it jumped from $95 to $200. I had a nice red burgandy ( Beaune) for $95. i couldnt see spending $70 on a Beaujoulais. Anyway, so much for my banter. The first course we had ( there were 3 of us so , because there were 3 choices for each course , we had a chance to share all of the choices , sometimes)
              -- The Salt Pressed Ocean Trout with Calamansit (Filipino Citris) was excellent.
              -- The foie gras terrine topped with crispy duckskin and apple puree, sounded better than it was. It was a little dry and somewhat gamey ( $20 surcharge)
              2nd course
              was poached egg with black rice and uni. I did not try that , but the other two in my party loved it. ( i don't like poached eggs) Oh the eggs were from Knoll Krest Farm ( doesn't really matter to me, but to some it might)
              ----- I had Satur Farms Celeriac Espuma served with Truffle Powder.,cripy potato curls and truffle cream Now , imagine someone telling you that with a foreign accent. I had no idea what it was even if it was spoken clearly with no accent. I had to google it. Espuma is impressive, Celeriac has something to do with celery root i think. In any case the taste was very good, very creamy and foamy too.
              ----3rd course was the fish course
              --- East coast flounder, topped with langoustine, with black truffle. ( $20 surcharge) taste was good, a little bland.
              ----Nova Scotia Lobster made with coconut milk,basil, rice balls, very thai like sauce. Fairly spicy. ($20 surcharge)
              The lober dish was good, everyone seemed to like the Langoustine that topped the flounder better than the lobster, perhaps because it was more tender.
              4th course ( meat or risotto)
              --I had the 3 day beef cheek in a wine reduction,with black trumpet mushrroms, with some kind of what they called potato leaves. The beef was a little dry, reminded me a little of short ribs.
              --- Pearl Barley Risotto with butternut squash and nasturtium leaf. I didn't know you could eat nasturtium leaf. It had a good consistency , but lacked flavor. I was sorry no one in my party ordered the guinea hen, i wanted to try that.
              5th course ( dessert)
              Carmelia Custard with crispy dark chocolate - it had some ice cream with it also. It was Ok ,but nothing amazing. It did look impressive.
              ----Candied Yams with maple , cranberry and burnt milk was very good
              ------ they ended with some honey coated honey comb, and some mint chocolate truffles, and another sweet.
              In general, the dishes all were very creative, very artistic, tremendous presentation. But I was underwhelmed by the tastes. You did feel like you were in one of the top restaurants. You did get the experience of the Modern or Jean Georges, or perhaps the Four Seasons. The price was about the same as any of those. ( my bill was $500 before tip). In my opinion , the food is far better at Jean Georges, EMP, Modern.
              The service was good, except for one big lapse between the 1st and 2nd courses. The overrall experience was good. You felt like you went somewhere special. Unlike spending that kind of money and going to say , Bklyn Fare with no table cloths or tables.
              ( regarding the Minetta reservation on a friday night, we have connections there)

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

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                FoodWhisperer the description of the dishes sound amazing. The website pictures make my mouth water. Based on what you say they look better than they taste. The cost is very high for me. I would want the best meal of my life for that price.

                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  Thanks for the excellent report, but there's one thing that confuses me: How many Setai Hotels are there in New York? Ai Fiori is also in the Setai Hotel, but that location is nowhere near Broad St.

                  1. re: Pan

                    Pan,

                    There are two Setai Hotels, one in midtown and the other in the FiDi. SHO is located in the latter.

                    http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                    1. re: Pan

                      The sign says Setai Hotel, there must be more than one location

                    2. re: foodwhisperer

                      Foodwhisperer,

                      Thanks for reporting back. You did a very good job of describing what you had and how you felt about the meal.

                      As I mentioned in my previous post, I had heard that they add supplements to some of the dishes. Frankly, I think +$20 for foie gras or lobster is outrageous! It just goes to remind me what a bargain SHO used to be. Now, not so much.

                      http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                      1. re: RGR

                        RGR, actually the thing about the surcharges that was bizarre, was 2 of the 3 offering for the course had surcharge. Lobster usually has a surcharge in many restaurants, foie gras sometimes also. But flounder having a surcharge is pretty bizarre, and 2 out of 3 having surcharge is bizarre as well. That said it is a beautiful place

          2. Marissa was my server the last time I dined at SHO too. I didn't order alcohol, so she took my order and brought some of the food to my table. Agreed that she was excellent!

            And the food, always exceptional.

            1. >> "SHO Shaun Hergatt Review: Exceptional Food To Be Savored"

              I see what you did there.

              Okay, okay. I'm slow.