The Early Word: SHO Shaun Hergatt
After an evening at SHO Shaun Hergatt, it's a long walk out--the restaurant has multiple dining rooms and encompasses 12,500 square feet. Traversing long red-lit corridors, and passing by glass walls stacked with wine bottles, you feel dubious. Not because SHO is a bad restaurant, far from it, but because you can't imagine how the place is going to fill the seats.
Chef Shaun Hergatt is Australian by birth, and previously worked at Atelier. He specializes in a kind of modern French-Asian fusion. SHO is in the Setai--a building that is, per the website, "Part condominium. Part resort and spa. Part club." Whatever that means. It's smack in the Financial District, close by to the stock exchange, and conceived before the meltdown of 2008.
But SHO is no more expensive than others of its ilk. A two-course prix fix is $57--not a bargain, but not totally out-of-the-ordinary either, especially given the two rounds of amuse-bouches at the outset and flurry of petits fours at the end. What's curious is the location. The Financial District is totally dead at night. At 8:30 on a Friday, the street was deserted, and the dining rooms were less than half full. Not only that, but on the same corner as the Setai's entrance, several police officers were standing around, casually clutching machine guns. Eeek! Maybe there's good reason that the FiDi is not restaurant-central.
But what about the food? It's pretty great, if pricey. (Gael Greene recently called it "quite unexpectedly brilliant.") Click through for more.
The first round of amuse bouche. Front: Parcels of caviar and creme fraiche; Mid: Whitefish tartare in filo dough; Back: Foie gras pate
Service is very classic--white linens, chargers, and so on, plus two rounds of amuse-bouches (above is the second round: Squid in lime-fish sauce dressing; the beautiful little tomato is peeled), and the formal, synchronized setting down of plates. But the place doesn't feel uptight or stodgy--servers manage to be both proper and friendly (but not too friendly!).
A first course of peaky toe crab and flying fish roe (above) was generous on the crustacean, and topped with galangal gelee and orange nubs of sea urchin. Even better was a starter of fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with blue spot prawns and lemongrass.
As for mains, Thai pepper steak is a good choice, mainly because it's topped with a glazed beef cheek that you wish would last forever.
Instead of paying for dessert, rely on the salty caramel truffles included in the array of petits fours.
40 Broad Street, Second Floor