I had the pleasure of going to Crown Shy in the Financial District - the new venture from Chef James Kent (Nomad, Eleven Madison Park) and GM/Partner Jeff Katz (of Del Posto group). This was built directly inside a luxury residential building, and is completely new top to bottom. They're also opening a second restaurant on a higher floor targeting ultra high end dining, but this was the first of the pair. The outcome is as cool as the name - "crown shy" refers to a phenomenon of when a certain type of tree grows up, tall, and so close to it's neighbors, yet they never touch leaves or branches. It's a marvel of nature, frankly, and a photographer's dream. But, on to the restaurant.
I happened to go before I had launched, or really started creating content for, my website. I never did the proper note-taking to do a full, in-depth review. But, I have the pictures, the memories of the flavors, and I felt like I would be doing it a giant injustice if I didn't do a blog review here. Even though by now it's getting tons of amazing press, filling reservations, and very deservingly getting glowing reviews on sites like Yelp. I've been twice - yep, twice. As is the spirit of Always Wander, I will be transparent that the first time was for the soft opening, and therefore was no charge. This was more through dumb luck of who I knew, not because they wanted me to review or even knew who I was. The second, was a return trip with some friends and we paid full fare as regular diners. So, no special treatment here other than how they treat everyone - which is great. I'll highlight some standout dishes here, though a few are no longer on the menu or have changed slightly in form and tastes. Pictures below will be in the same order as the write ups.
-Oysters and Fresh Bread: The bread comes with the table, the oysters are a starter. The bread was a fresh baked (of course) plush piece of dough that looked solid, yet pulled apart in individual pieces with no need to cut. Inside was an ever so light olive spread. Think tapenade, but nowhere near as thick or heavy. FANTASTIC, and the best bread and butter I've had in a long time. The oysters, were beautiful and fresh. With cucumber cubes, a "shiso" (it was actually liquefied and reformed as little cubes, a really cool effect) and some micro-basil. We loved them as we so often do with those little shellfish.
-Burrata with Italian Chicory (I think): From there we moved onto a salad and burrata combo that was surprisingly light. I'll eat burrata anywhere. I mean anywhere, it's fantastic. But, it's usually similar in how it's presented. This has some burrata hunks, some lovely chicory greens (again, I believe that's what they were, happy to be corrected by Crown Shy, just comment on my Instagram post and I'll update), red grapefuit, and fresh mint leaves. Wow did we like this. LIGHT and FRESH. Amazing, really.
-Fried Cauliflower: Another stand out little dish. The cauliflower was almost meaty inside the crispy outside. The sauce seemed similar to a BBQ sauce, korean style (which I don't think it was, however). But on the site now it says sherry, so maybe I'm mistaken or it's been updated. There was a HINT of spice, and some fresh pecorino on top. I had it at both sittings.
-Cavatelli with Chicken Liver Ragu: I feel like I'm running out of adjectives for these dishes already which is not a good sign, as I've got a few more to go. You almost couldn't tell it was liver. Just rich, meaty, and amazing. This blew our minds a little. Perfect pasta, too.
-Oxtail, Farro, and Bone Marrow: You read that right. Bone marrow. And it wasn't served in the bone, it was basically the base for the sauce. I was in heaven. Sign me up. Looks like this isn't on the menu anymore as they've gone more springy, but if it comes back, absolutely get it.
-Whole Fish: I believe this was red snapper, but again it was a while ago so I might have that wrong. Was cooked and served whole, had frisee greens on top, as well as two nice touches: a chimichurri spread, and a BUTTERNUT SQUASH MOLE. Holy mo....no no. I'm not going to make that pun, thank god. I love mole. Love it. And this was a very cool interpretation. Fish was cooked really nicely too.
-Short Rib for 2: We did not realize this was for 2. Don't judge us, it was so nice. We ate it all. Lovely presentation, had "ends" as well, chimichurri sauce again for dipping, some really fresh quinoa and mint salad, and some sort of magical, potato foam/cream creation on top of the braised ends. Ridiculous.
-Dessert, Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Sorbet, Sorrel Granita: A lovely interpretation of the classic dish and turned way up. The granita was a great surprise, the sorbet amazing in the way blood orange always is, and the panna cotta was milky and smooth. A great ending to a meal.
So that was our first journey. The second time we also ate the fritters (oh wow), the caremelle (equally wow), and the octopus (perfectly soft). All outstanding.
I've told anyone who will listen this: GO TO CROWN SHY. The food is outrageous, creative without being unapproachable, and the vibe/environment is open and casual while still having that very trendy NYC vibe to it. (I think it's also the sneaky-best value of all the fine dining I've had anywhere in NYC). Cocktails were also good, with a nice gin selection to boot. I've been twice, and I can assure you I'm excited to go back and try the new items. Well done, Chef and team.
Crown Shy, NYC