As much as my wife Jun and I enjoy living in the Financial District, with its convenient location to all parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn and the relative dearth of tourists during the weekend, there is no denying that the dining scene in FiDi still needs a lot of improvement, even with such new restaurants as Augustine and Manhatta where we had very good meals. In that respect, Crown Shy which opened recently just three minutes away from our apartment was a game changer. A restaurant led by the fine-dining pedigree of James Kent, who spent his time at Eleven Madison Park and NoMad, and Jeff Katz, who was a manager at Del Posto, Crown Shy’s ambitious yet approachable menu instantly intrigued me. In order to try as many dishes as possible, we asked another couple living nearby our apartment to join us for dinner, and I’m very glad we did.
The menu at Crown Shy is loosely New American with no set boundaries or primary influences, but you can already tell from sampling a few dishes in the beginning that the kitchen is quite focused on tight and consistent execution, starting with the complementary bread with dried olives on top that I wish I could have for meal every day. One of the dishes I can’t stop thinking about even while I’m writing this review are the simple fritters of gruyere cheese. These fritters that look like churros were so delicious without being too heavy from the crust or the cheese inside and would be awesome snack pairings for any type of wine. Another big surprise was the crudo, which has quickly become one of the most overused and least exciting dishes in the dining scene these days. Crown Shy’s kitchen uses red snapper with citrus whose texture was quite outstanding; if every restaurant that has crudo on the menu as good as this one, I doubt that diners would get tired of crudo in general.
The blistered snap peas with wasabi and lemon felt quite right as a seasonal dish in between spring and summer. The only hit among the smaller dishes was the charred octopus, which had pretty decent texture, but the salty sensation of chorizo overpowered it a little too much. The two larger dishes we shared at the restaurant were also quite wonderful. I couldn’t remember quickly the last chicken dish that was as good as the one marinated with grilled citrus at Crown Shy; the marvelously moist texture of the poultry made me fall in love with this dish almost instantly! Another dish not to skip at the restaurant is the roasted short rib with a side of quinoa and chimichurri. Just like the chicken, the texture and temperature of the beef was impeccable and the seasoning on the beef itself was fairly minimal so we could concentrate on the meat’s texture itself. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say the chicken and short rib combo at Crown Shy is one of the top meat dish duos I’ve ever had at a restaurant, period. For dessert, the yogurt cheesecake with pistachio and strawberry sorbet offered a refreshing break after all the meat dishes, and the sticky toffee pudding with pecan and apple sorbet was pure decadence that my sweet tooth wife praised generously.
Crown Shy has started to get quite a bit of buzz with professional critics and you don’t have that many restaurants in FiDi that match the quality or ambition of this place, so making a reservation is likely to require some advance planning. There is full bar with surprisingly a fair number of decently priced wines. The dining room may not have a particularly sexy or classic feel to it, but I actually like that it is approachable enough to utilize the restaurant for a number of different types of occasions and meals. The service overall was also competent, with no major hiccups during our meal. A few days after our meal, Jun suggested that we mark Crown Shy as our go-to restaurant whenever we feel too lazy to dine outside of our neighborhood, and I couldn’t agree more. Crown Shy is the type of place that we wouldn’t feel bad about having our friends living in other neighborhoods to come all the way to FiDi for; it is truly a destination on its own worth a detour to FiDi. I’m looking to come back again in the near future, and hopefully on my next visit (or the one after that) I’ll be confident enough to give the KenScale All Star badge.
KenScale: 8.5/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.5/10)
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 9.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 9.0/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: 70 Pine Street, New York, NY 10005
Telephone: (212) 517-1932