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Good News/Bad News Sho Shaun Hergatt

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Krieger, 6/5/09

Just over a week ago, Australian chef Shaun Hergatt (Atelier, the Setai in SoBe) opened SHO Shaun Hergatt, his new 12,500 sq. ft. monster in FiDi. The obvious question: Can a place like this survive in trying times like these? The restaurant as a few things going for it: Hergatt's brand of modern French with bold Asian flavors is something new this far downtown and $69 pre-fixe is relatively recession friendly given the restaurant's fine dining label. Well, the reviews have been coming and so far things are looking overwhelmingly—and suspiciously—positive. If any of these early reviews aren't shills, it could be here to stay:

The Fantastic News: Always Hungry New York gushes over everything from the decor to the halibut, even boldly suggesting a four star review from the Brunz: "It’s rare that I’m speechless, but last Thursday night’s preview dinner at SHO Shaun Hergatt stunned me into my first satisfied oblivion of 2009. An expansive glass wall separates diners from the theatrics of the grand kitchen and many of the tables face Hergatt’s “stage” where he commands his dutiful “players.” You witness meticulousness then taste it. The striking décor is matched by the drama of SHO’s impeccable food, which the chef described as “Asian-accented, modern French cuisine.” These small bites leave you salivating, excited for an evening of luxurious consumption. And while many chefs are turning away from the haute in haute cuisine, fine dining is alive and well at SHO...Dare I say that SHO could be cause for Frank Bruni’s four-star curtain call?" [Always Hungry New York]

The Bad News: A New York Magazine reader reports a troubling observation in their comments: SHO is nice enough in terms of decor and ambiance. Food is rather tasty (with small exceptions) but for that price - it'd better be. Service seems to know menu inside out and are very warm, if a bit too stiff (as if they were trying to resurrect Victorian Era (what's with that "Sirs", "Madams"? It's 21st century and USA, not UK). One thing ruined my experience, though. My girlfriend got lost on her way to bathroom and she happened to come by the kitchen only to witness chef Hergatt himself throwing a fit of rage. Apparently he was yelling at a server, trying to humiliate him for some (trivial, no doubt) mistake. My girlfriend said Hergatt was towering over the waiter using his height, body posture and strong voice to utterly demean and terrorize the guy. When she got back to the table that was all she could think of. We both agreed we don't need to patronize establishments where management/owners don't know how to treat their employees right and are trying to reinstitute slavery-like methods. We say no to SHO." [GS]

The Outstanding News: A lone, suspiciously ecstatic Yelper writes: "Very talented Australian Chef with an earthy personality and great wait staff, knowledgeable and extremely attentive. You can see the kitchen ( in one of the rooms) the tables are gigantic and the "degustation" menu with high ingredients quality, well prepared by the Chef's team and, price wise it's unbeatable. Beautifully wine exhibition even though i am not much a drinker. Classy hostess feel in Paradise :)" [Yelp]

The Encouraging News: A Menupages user gets in an early word: "I went to Sho restaurant last night and ate in the dining room, I had a great bottle of wine and a 3 course menu for only $110 which is amazing for such a high end place, the bar is fun too, great selection of wines by the glass. will be back!" [MP]

More Good News: A note from the Eater inbox: "I was about to write a user comment for Sho after eating there sat night but saw the reaction to the "shills" and decided not to, as i was pretty sure my good review would be lumped into the shill category. i don't usually volunteer comments but this was one of those restaurants that i left wanting to tell others about. i strongly suggest eating there yourselves or finding a real review for your readers. we had a great experience all around." [Eater Inbox]
— Matt Duckor