Note: Shore and Fresh both closed.
Part of the affectation at fresh. (105 Reade St) and shore. (41 Murray St) is that a period always follows the restaurant name, even in the middle of a sentence. Hence, you do not order the Fresh Salad, but the “fresh. Salad.” Neither the Shore Chicken, but the “shore. Chicken.” A sibling called “coast.” is to open around Labor Day on Liberty Street downtown.
They’re run by the same outfit that supplies seafood to the likes of Alain Ducasse, Le Bernardin, and Bouley. Fresh and Shore (forgive me for eschewing the periods) share a common chef, Daniel Angerer. Fresh is the upscale version (two NYT stars), while Shore got a favorable “$25-and-under” review from Eric Asimov earlier this year.
Coincidentally, I tried both within a couple of days of each other. (I didn’t know that a business associate was planning dinner at Fresh on Monday night, when I chose Shore on Saturday night.)
At 41 Murray Street, Shore is just barely in TriBeCa. Actually, it is technically not in TriBeCa, although some real estate folk now use “TriBeCa South” to refer to the thin wafer of streets bounded by Chambers, Vesey, Broadway, and the West Side Highway. It’s a bit like the rebranding of Hell’s Kitchen.
But I see no evidence that Shore is trying to capitalize on its TriBeCa proximity. Indeed, the exterior seems positively designed to discourage walk-ins. It looks like just another one of the dive bars that permeate the area. The restaurant’s name is on a fading tie-on banner, lending the place a makeshift appearance that makes you wonder if they’re still deciding whether to stay.
With such a seedy exterior, you have no idea that the inside will look so warm and inviting. It’s an airy sea-shore esthetic, with ample space between the tables, a raw bar, space for live musicians, and service that’s both friendly and efficient. Shore wasn’t full the night I visited — far from it. An exterior facelift would certainly help.
Shore has a specials menu that changes daily. Thankfully, they print it and attach it to the menu, instead of forcing us to memorize a list recited by the server. Their main menu changes seasonally. I placed a hopelessly contrarian order: Smothered Barbequed Baby-Back ribs. Well, forgive me, but I was just in a mood for ribs, and it turns out Shore does a damned good job of them. My friend ordered the Boston Batter-Fried Combo Plate, which comes in a paper basket as if you’d ordered it at the shore. It includes shrimp, scallops, lemon sole, clams, and fries. I tasted a good deal of her plate, and it was delightful.
Overall, Shore is a great escape — like going to the shore without leaving Manhattan. Appetizers are anywhere from $4 for a cup of soup, to $16 for a pail of steamers. Mains are anywhere from $8 (fried lemon sole sandwich) to $22 (baked stuffed shrimp).
At Fresh, which I tried two evenings later, the menu changes daily. The décor is bright and airy. You’ll either welcome it like a fresh breeze, or you’ll find the sea-blue murals decidedly kitschy. Take your pick, but I liked it. Service was superb, although we had an early reservation, so there was plenty of staff available to attend us.
There’s a six-course $65 tasting menu, with two choices per course, which is what my associate and I ordered. I’m afraid I can’t remember most of the courses, aside from the foie gras, which was out-of-this-world. A tomato soup came highly recommended by our server, but I was underwhelmed. The main fish course was a hit. Overall, I have had more awesome tasting menus, but at $65 this one is a comparative bargain.