SHO Shaun Hergatt, NYC

March 17, 2010

Australian chef Shaun Hergatt opened this dramatic restaurant last June, quickly winning a Michelin star and the highest food rating in Zagat. Allison, Linda and I went for dinner on March 9, 2010. 

The entry lobby to the building and to the restaurant on the second floor are both very imposing. A corridor lined with wine bottles leads past private dining rooms to the two main dining rooms. The kitchen opens on to one of them.

A plate of lovely hors d’oeuvres arrived shortly after we were seated. The poached quail egg topped with a caviar dab is a signature item, but is not easy to eat.


The basic menu offering is three courses, with nine choices in each, for $69. There are also eight-course and fifteen-course tasting menus. There is no à la carte, but $69 is a very reasonable price for the three courses, plus the extras, in an upscale ambience.  Having had our aperitifs at Allison’s apartment we skipped them here and ordered a bottle of 2007 Alban Vineyards (Sonoma) Viognier and one of 2007 Domaine Seguin-Manuel “Vielles Vignes” Savigny-les-Beaune. The white wine was very nice, fruity and dry at the same time. The red had a nice flavor, but was insubstantial. 

The first amuse-gueule was a scallop ravioli with morels; there was a slice of scallop sashimi on the bottom and a lemony gel on top.

The second amuse-gueule was a Boston green lettuce purée with tomato confit topped with a small chunk of braised pork belly. Both of the amuse-gueules were nice and made one wish they were bigger.


Allison’s first course was
Purple Garlic Roasted Rock Shrimp
Butternut Fondant, Crustacean Espuma

Allison wrote: “The rock shrimp were perfectly cooked, tender and juicy, and went well with the rich and creamy crustacean “espuma” and dense butternut squash disc.  There was the tiniest heat to the shrimp, which if punched up about one notch would have made the dish absolutely fantastic instead of just good.”

Linda started with
Hudson Valley Foie Gras
Hazelnut Tuiles, Elderberry Coulis

Linda wrote: “The miniature cupcake-like morsels of foie gras mousse shocked me when they arrived at the table. Hardly an escalope of foie gras, which is what I expected, given the title of the dish. The menu should have described this dish as rounds of foie gras mousse, aptly warning clients instead of just ‘Hudson Valley Foie Gras.’ I was deflated and enviously eyed the sweetbread starter across the table.”

My first course was
Black Truffle Glazed Sweetbreads
Mirin Braised Daikon, Young Celery Leaves

The rich, truffled meat glaze on top of the sweetbreads created a very rich dish to be sampled in small bites (and shared with Linda.)  The daikon provided a bland counterpoint. Good.

Allison went on to
Three Day Short Rib
Dried Cranberry Crust, Parsnip Purée

Allison wrote: “In my first bite I managed to get a little too much cranberry crust and was convinced the whole dish was going to be overly sweet based on the brown sauce’s cider base and the intense cranberry flavor.  However, when I re-apportioned the crust, parsnip puree and short rib in my next bite, the flavors  mixed beautifully.  I thought the pearl onion garnish was unnecessary, but cute.”

Linda’s second course was
Medallions of Rabbit Loin
Carrot and Cardamom, Picholine Olive Sauce

Linda wrote: “The tenderness and taste of the rabbit was appropriate, but the carrot-cardomom purée was too sweet. The heart of palm chunks seemed fresh, but the dish overall provided letdown #2 for me.”

Mine was
New York State Squab
Duck Rillette Parcel, Foie Gras, Rosella Gel

The squab was well-cooked with a crispy skin and a juicy flavorful inside. Rosella is Australian for hibiscus; its jelly was a good accompaniment to the squab and the little scallop of foie gras. This was rich so the small portion was okay.

Allison’s dessert was
Chocolate and Jasmine Inspiration
Pomelo Compote, Milk Chocolate Sorbet

Allison wrote: “I never caught a jasmine or pomelo flavor in this dessert but still really enjoyed the light chocolate flavor of the sorbet (on top) and compote (under the chocolate sheet) with the nuttier chocolate flavor of the ring.”

Linda’s was
Tahitian Vanilla Bavarois
Muscovado Génoise, Pear Sorbet

At last! Linda was relieved that her third choice of the evening, dessert, was good. The bavarois inside the rolls was good as were the cookie, pear and sorbet.

Mine was
Java Crémeux
Apricot Croustillant, Cardomom Ice Cream

The cube was a rich coffee mousse coated in dark chocolate. Like my two other courses, this had to be eaten slowly. The ice cream was a good offset, but I didn’t get a lot of cardomom flavor.

The mignardises were macaroons and very good, fresh chocolate truffles.

Well, we are glad we went, but we were hoping for more. The service was very good, the tables well spaced and the noise level low, but only half of the tables were occupied. SHO’s location next to The New York Stock Exchange is unusual, but subway access is easy. The New York Times has not reviewed SHO yet, but it will be hard to get the needed *** review with such uneven quality in the food.

Allison and I stopped to admire a gorgeous amarylis on the way out.


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