Note: Click here for a full review of Sheridan Square.
The long-delayed Sheridan Square opens tonight in Greenwich Village. The restaurant has been in a “soft open” for the last couple of days, and after reading a glowing review yesterday on Mouthfuls, I decided to stop in for dinner.
The chef here, Gary Robins, joins a gaggle of former three-star chefs opening in much humbler Greenwich Village settings. Bar Blanc is run by a trio of Bouley alumni, Bobo opened with a former Ducasse chef (who has since left), Commerce has Montrachet’s Harold Moore, and Sheridan Square has Robins, who earned three stars at the Biltmore Room and, less honorably, numerous pans at the Russian Tea Room.
Sheridan Square might be the best of this quartet of restaurants, all within two square blocks of one another. We rated Commerce an outright failure, and Frank Bruni gave it only one star. Bar Blanc got the two stars it likely wanted, but it continues to be dogged by service complaints; we consider it an under-achiever. We liked Bobo (not yet reviewed by Bruni), but the jury is still out; it appears to be righting the ship after a nearly disastrous start.
Bobo certainly has the loveliest space, though Sheridan Square rates a respectable second, with a cheery modern vibe, large windows that admit plenty of natural light, a woodburning stove, white tablecloths, and elegant service. It’s a pity those windows don’t offer something nicer to look at. Like all restaurants located on avenues and major cross streets, the view is nothing special.
There’s a divided kitchen, with most of the cooking done in the basement, and some of the finishing and plating done upstairs in view of the dining room. I don’t quite understand the allure of open kitchens, but this one seemed to be humming along efficiently without being too much of a distraction.
The seasonal (“Late Spring”) menu is priced about in line with the neighborhood’s other upscale newcomers, with starters $11–19, entrées $24–36, and side dishes $8. I counted at least four entrées that are prepared in the wood-burning oven, and I suspect they’ll be among the most popular. I wasn’t happy to see two entrées with “m.p.” instead of a price (lamb, strip steak). Given the ease of reprinting these days, and a seasonal menu that changes frequently, how hard is it to reprint when the price changes?
A mis-named appetizer called “Crispy Squash Blossom” ($17) was mildly disappointing. The brown fritter in the photo is basically an oddly shaped jumbo lump crab cake with a tangy mango chili sauce. The corn salsa and avocado were a bit more exciting, but seemed to have parachuted in from a different appetizer. A couple of ugly shards of lettuce didn’t add anything either, and for the life of me I couldn’t find any squash.
I adored the Wood Grilled Carolina Trout ($24), plated with golden beets in a honey ginger vinaigrette, wild rice, garden beans and yuzu hazelnut brown butter. Everything in this dish worked beautifully together, punctuated by two ample filets of tender trout and a mild smoky flavor imparted by the wood-burning oven.
Service was about as smooth and assured as I’ve seen in a restaurant that is not yet technically open. I did not order wine, but the wine list, though not particularly deep, seemed to be fairly priced, with plenty of bottles under $50 and a good selection by the glass. I had a couple of terrific cocktails, but there was no printed cocktail menu. Bread service could be better, with only humdrum sourdough bread and a caraffe of olive oil as the only choice.
I don’t assign ratings to restaurants that are not yet open, but Sheridan Square seems to have all of the pieces in place for a solid two stars. I look forward to coming back again in another month or two.
Sheridan Square (138 Seventh Ave. S. between W. 10th & Charles Sts., West Village)