Note: Shaun Hergatt left the eponymous restaurant at the end of July 2012. As of August 2012, the space was called The Exchange, with an inexpensive menu by new chef Josh Capone. That restaurant closed in April 2013. As of October 2014, it is Reserve Cut, a kosher steakhouse.
The mainstream critics practically ignored SHO—including no full review in The New York Times. Despite that egregious error, business has picked up. We found it full on a Saturday evening, in contrast to our last visit, when it was practically empty.
The base price remains $69 prix fixe for three courses at dinner (à la carte at lunch), plus a flurry of canapés, amuses-bouches, petits-fours, and so forth. It is probably the best high-end restaurant deal in the city. The obligatory tasting menus have appeared: $110 for six courses or $220 for fifteen.
We ordered the six-course tasting. Our enthusiasm for the restaurant is undimmed, and as this is our second review of SHO, we’ll keep our comments brief.
We started with a trio of canapés (above left), of which we failed to get an intelligable explanation. Then, as amuse-bouche, a Kumamoto oyster with crème fraiche (above right).
The first savory course was a superb Venison Tartare (above left) with perigord truffle. We also loved a Maitake Mushroom Soup (above right) with black trumpet pavé and celeriac foam.
The kitchen sentout an extra course (above left): a soft poached quail egg with langoustine, black truffle, and cauliflower purée. This was terrific, but I must admit we couldn’t taste the langoustine, if it was there at all.
Wild Striped Bass (above right) was impeccably prepared.
We had two preparations of lobster (above left; the photo was after I’d already taken a few bites). Although the lobster itself was beautifully done, I didn’t think creamy polenta added much to the dish.
We also had two preparations of veal tenderloin (above right). The preparation with sweetbread ravioli (pictured) was much better than the one with veal tongue.
As pre-dessert (not pictured), we had a vanilla crème with orange butter, citrus segments, and chocolate. Dessert (also not pictured) was a chocolate soufflé, candied kumquats, and ice cream. This was followed by more petits-fours (left) than we could possibly eat.
Service was first-rate. The staff recognized us, but as far as we could tell, everyone got the same treatment.
The patrons filling SHO on a Saturday evening are clearly not a neighborhood crowd. Despite the lack of media adoration, the word has gotten out.
Many people thought it was a fool’s errand to open a place like SHO in the current economy, and particularly in the battered Financial District, in a building covered in scaffolding, on a street closed to traffic. Of course, most of the planning was done in the boom times, and there is little they could have done to change it—even assuming they wanted to. Luckily for us, they stuck to their guns, and opened the best new restaurant of 2009.
SHO Shaun Hergatt (40 Broad Street near Exchange Place, Financial District)