Note: Shorty’s.32 closed in September 2011, the victim of “bad business decisions.”
At Shorty’s.32, the backstory is a familiar one: a fine-dining chef opens a neighborhood comfort-food spot. We’ve seen it all over town.
At Shorty’s, that chef is Josh Eden, who cooked at several restaurants in Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s empire, eventually working his way up to chef de cuisine at JoJo. The diminutive Mr. Eden picked up the nickname “Shorty,” and the restaurant has 32 seats, which explains the otherwise inscrutable name.
You’ll find little of Chef Vongerichten’s influence here, just standard upscale American comfort food priced slightly on the expensive side, with appetizers $8–14, entrées $16–30, and side dishes $7. Based on the hearty portions we were served, we’re not sure why anyone would really need a side dish here.
The wine list is priced in line with the menu. Reds range from $28–180, with an emphasis on lesser known producers. I loved a 2005 Alliet Chinon “Vieilles Vignes” Cabernet Franc ($60), which I was able to taste by the glass because the bar happened to have a bottle open.
The food was all competently prepared, but a few days later I had already forgotten most of it. Fortunately, I had the photos to remind me. Crabsticks ($14; above left) were basically cakes served in the shape of spring rolls. Braised Pork Belly shared the bowl with a Cranberry Bean Salad ($12; above right).
The dishes Frank Bruni liked, when he awarded one star, are still on the menu. He was not fond of a pork chop in “a soggy milieu of mashed yams.” Replacing it is Pork Milanese ($24; above left), suffocated by a pea shoot and radish salad. Bruni liked the Braised Short Ribs ($29; above left). I found the saucing too heavy, but the side of elbow macaroni was just fine.
A glance at Chef Eden’s resume might lead you to expect culinary fireworks. There are none. What you do get is solid comfort food, worth a look if you happen to be in the area.
Shorty’s.32 (199 Prince Street between Sullivan & MacDougal Streets, SoHo)