SHO is a restaurant that seems to pop up all over the food forums. People rave about the food and the value non stop, so you can understand why we were curious and excited about this place.
As I was saying internet is full of restaurant reviews, all those reviews are subjective perception of reviewer satisfaction about an establishment. But, is it possible to really measure client satisfaction in a restaurant using objective or tangible factors, it might sound silly but I can assure you that it is. Some measurable factors used to answer the business question of customer satisfaction can be: noise level, price, time of response from the service, colors in the food, dish size, colors in the restaurant, number of people serving your dinner, food quantity, light level, space between tables, price, location, viscosity, texture, …. there are tons of quantifiable elements that can be used in some way or in other to define your satisfaction in a restaurant. I will explain this topic in a separate in the coming weeks…
Ok so after this philosophical / mathematical intro, let’s move to the actual restaurant review and let’s start with some of those tangible/objective factors and let’s use to evaluate service at SHO. This is a pure non food related aspect, but I can assure you it is very important in the overall restaurant satisfaction. The people were lovely and helpful, but the timing was way off. There were many moments throughout the night where we were just left hanging. This happened mostly at the beginning of the meal, where it took 10 minutes until somebody approach our table and 15 until the menu was explained to us.
Thankfully the service did improve once the dishes were pushed out. I guess I feel that this place is missing a bit of refinement. I like many people pay attention to the details when spending money on food, so I have certain expectations. This may sound harsh or but here goes… The staff could pay more attention to how they dress, there were many unpressed and wrinkly suits and shirts ( other of the measurable factors ). Trust me I hardly am one to iron my shirts on a daily basis, but I do expect that if you are going all out and playing with the big boys like EMP, Corton, Adour (just to name a few) you should spare no expense and be meticulous in every way. I know this may sound petty but it is true.
The other small pet peeve I had with the place was the lack of acknowledgement of the price of the tasting menu. I believe it should be on the menu, no? Specially because it is a great deal, and probably a still for the NY fine dinning scene: $85 for a 5 courses tasting menu.
Enough of the boring non food factors and let’s move to the more subjective and fun part: the food. And believe me this the GOOD part! Shaun Hergatt nails it!
The amuse Bouche were nice but not as good as the others we have had at other fine dining establishments. This foam of ginger was tasty and had flavors similar to a dish my grandmother used to make so it was nice in the way it tasted familiar. The Maine clams were simple and clam like perhaps a bit too salty. The third amuse bouche was like a black truffle croqueta. This was again very tasty but not mind-blowing.
Sadly I can not remember the exact specifics on these but I know Jose ordered a tequila based drink and mine was beet juice cocktail of some kind. They were both good but like the amuse bouche nothing terribly memorable. At this point in the meal we have to say this place was not living up to ALL the hype.
Jose loves Foie so of course he is going to order it. This dish is a 10.00 supplement so we were expecting something extraordinaire but besides from being beautifully plated it was a bit off the mark.
Salt-Pressed Petuna Ocean Trout
Compressed Nashi Pear – Kalamansi – Anise Hyssop
This dish was tasty but I have to say that Jose’s salt pressed/cured fish is better.
The bread was good, sadly it was cold though. We love the bread at EMP because its is warm and the butter melts as you spread it on. Yummy memories. This bread was tasty but again was off the mark.
Jose ordered this dish, from what he told me it was good. But I can’t speak for him so I will have him post his comments later today. Confirmed this was one of the surprises of the night. Jose has been always a big fan of the non fancy meat cuts ( he is coming from an old generation of butchers ) and this one delivered.
Fennel Pollen dusted Lamb Sweetbreads
Young Fennel Safrron Relish – Pearl Onions – Capers – Lemon Zest
This dish was tasty and interesting. The flavors were unique and sauces paired well.
This was a great dish. I am a lobster loving mainiac (that’s what people born in Maine are supposedly called) And the dish did not disappoint. I loved the creamy curry sauce and the basil seeds. It was spectacular. Surely one of the better dishes of the night. (So good it deserves two pics)
East Coast Halibut
Langoustine – Cauliflower Purée – Romanesco – Arugula Flowers
Jose’s Halibut was good but it was not nearly as tasty as mine. Perhaps he disagrees, lets see.
The Beef cheek was good and rich. It vaguely reminded me of a deeply flavorful dish my mom makes. Other of the outstanding dishes of the night.
I was on the fence with what I should order for this course and our waiter suggested I try the Squab. I am glad he did because it was delicious. The skin was crispy (it could have been a wee bit crisper) but it was good.
I had to order the chocolate, to be honest not many of the desserts stood out to me on the menu, and as you know, you really can’t go wrong with chocolate. The dish was good, all the components on the plate played well together but I have to say, while very different, this dish could not compete with Adours chocolate dessert! That was mind-blowing. I still think about that dessert to this day.
Jose ordered this dessert because the concord grape is in season. This dish was unique and tasty but again there was something a bit off about it. It reminded me of my time in my grandmother’s garden picking grapes off the vine and then making jelly. This dish had a very similar flavor to her jelly, which by the way was amazing, but I was expecting a bit more from a dessert.
The petite Fours were great! It was a nice way to end the night. Jose especially loved the Chocolate stones because it reminded him of his time at Mugaritz in Spain, where they did a similar preparation.
Overall the food was good, not great but good. The service was good but not great and the interior was just so so. We had a great night but I have to say that we are more excited by other establishments. Perhaps it was an off night for them. There must be a reason why people love it so much. Is it the value? I’m sure it is not the decoration
SHO Shaun Hergatt 40 Broad St (Fl. 2)
(between Exchange Pl & Beaver St)
New York, NY 10004
Neighborhood: Financial District 5 Courses Tasting Menu – $85
2 Michelin Stars 2012(212) 809-3993