Shorty’s .32

by Susan on November 21, 2007

[Food:3.5/5]

Though I’ve walked by this space numerous times, I was still surprised at the petite size of the dining area. Shorty’s .32 does not take reservations, but the four of us strolled in at 7:30pm on a Tuesday and were promptly seated under the unique, if not odd, array of lamp shades that hang from the ceiling. Josh Eden, who is chef and partner of this cozy SoHo restaurant, spent more than a decade working with Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Safe to say, it shows. Shorty’s .32 serves American comfort food with just the right touch of sophistication and pizzazz. Combine the cuisine with overly generous portion sizes, reasonable prices, and friendly service, and you’ve got a recipe for a great neighborhood place.

The only below par aspect of my evening came the moment I sat down. These days, I’ve become accustomed to the whimsical cocktail menus that have become so popular at restaurants. I look forward to perusing a list of homemade concoctions. While Shorty’s has a full bar, they only have a couple of special cocktail options. The Vespa Martini I sipped was inspired. It was the lack of other fanciful choices that was disappointing.

A handful of plump, Grilled Shrimp arrive in a pristine line. Celery root and bacon jus lend balance, and despite their usually distinct flavors, do not overpower the shellfish. Precisely cooked, the table unanimously voted this dish as the favorite starter. Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, intense with the vegetable’s flavor, wasn’t far behind. Quarter-sized potato chips start stacked in a centered pile, though the hot liquid slowly melts them, leaving them soft, starchy and sprinkled throughout the soup. The Crispy Crabsticks, essentially three crab cakes, each in log form, showed no signs of filler and were dense with tender crabmeat. While this homage to fishsticks did provide maximum surface area of fried crunchiness, it did not transform the dish into the quirky creation we were expecting. The dish is heavy, and a portion size adjustment would be wise. The pasta starter, Cavatelli with Arugula and Mushroom Ragout, tasted fresh and homemade, but it lacked the hearty and robust flavors I crave this time of year.

Black Sea Bass, pan seared, was light and flavorful. A bite of the luscious fish along with its accompaniments, quinoa and pickled beets, erased all skepticism I initially had of this unique pairing. The grainy quinoa, with hints of toasted nuts, provided texture. The pickled beets provided just the right amount of acid to cut the dish beautifully. Crispy skin, moist meat, and organic deliciousness made for a superb Roast Chicken. A chicken prepared so well, it alone would bring you back to Shorty’s, again and again. The mashed potatoes were dense and creamy; the chilled green beans crisp and refreshing.  Rich and velvety sauce smothered the succulent Braised Short Ribs. The sauce, the color of dark chocolate, was reminiscent of a Mexican mole. Though served on the same plate, the accompanying macaroni and cheese, browned and bubbling with cheesy goodness, comes in its own mini-casserole dish.

Personally, I would change the name of the Toasted Pound Cake on the dessert menu. Something like Berry Shortcake seems more apt. One of my fellow diners turned his nose up when this seemingly pedestrian confection made our list of two desserts. And, while I’ll admit it sounds a bit boring, it is actually a divine version of the classic, laden with mixed berries and whipped cream. The Chocolate Bread Pudding, perhaps having also undergone a bit of a facelift, tasted more like a dense chocolate cake than the spongy delight we were expecting. The sliced bananas, layered on top, looked too formal and out of place for this casual eatery.

Shorty’s .32
www.shortys32.com
199 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 375-8275

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

steve December 30, 2007 at 8:34 am

fabulous…went last nite with my wife…the food was great, and so was the service…we’re wine and martini people, so the lack of a cocktail menu was fine by us…we did sit at the bar, and jonathan, manning it, was terrific, as was the host antonio, whoo gives out his cell # for thoise who are good customers…josh, the chef, walked by and we chatted

excellent comfort food in a warm atmosphere…we’ll be back, and no, i’m not being paid to gloat about this place

ira January 2, 2008 at 4:45 pm

I have been there twice and will return again and again, great food… fine staff… cool bar
no fluff here, straight ahead good food.

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