SHO Shaun Hergatt

by Susan on March 22, 2010

Our night at SHO had a lot of things going for it. 1) It was the first time in months that my husband and I had a weekend night to ourselves. 2) We were armed with a gift certificate (a very generous thank you from dear friends). 3) I didn’t do any of my usual pre-dining research about the restaurant.

Note to self: Have more romantic, free dinners at fancy restaurants of which you have no expectations.

SHO is located in the labyrinth that is Wall Street, and many aspects of Chef Shaun Hergatt’s restaurant reflect its locale. Both the service and decor were all business. Waiters and servers did their work efficiently, though the sommelier was the only one on the floor who appeared to enjoy his job. The lights are bright and the tables are big. You’re a handshake’s distance from your dining companions and there’s a sterility that’s fitting for a merger, not a proposal.

Before our six-course tasting even began, we were primed with four superb canapes, including a quail egg with caviar that literally exploded with flavor and a decadent foie gras truffle. Then came two amuse bouches – yes, two – a scallop followed by a play on white and green asparagus. The preparations were exquisite and unique. The bar had been set high and we quietly agreed that the meal had only one way to go: downhill. And then came the venison tartare. Rich. Complex. Sublime. We ate in silence, the dish commanding every ounce of our attention.

The rest of the meal brought an intense mushroom soup, striped bass that was trumped by the langoustine that accompanied it, lobster that lost steam on behalf of its langoustine lead-in, and a beautiful piece of veal. While the proteins were prepared flawlessly, their accompaniments came across as after thoughts rather than part of a grander conception.

For dessert, the chocolate souffle was only adequate, while the citrus palette (a special request that was granted without question) was divine. The wine tasting was well-intentioned, but too whimsical.

Overall, Shaun Hergatt isn’t doing anything New York hasn’t see before, but he’s getting the job done. And well. SHO is also aggressive on price. At $110 for the six-course tasting, you’ll be hard-pressed to find similar value for a NYC fine dining experience.

SHO is the hard-working employee who earns their salary, but never goes above and beyond to garner the big promotion. No one said life on Wall Street was easy.

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