Jelly Fish, Velvet Chicken With Corn, Chan-do Country Chicken*, Poached Bean Curd*, Dim Sum
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Cuisine: New American
"Lord I was born a ramblin' man. Tryin' to make a livin' and doin' the best I can. When it's time for leaving, I hope you'll understand that I was born a ramblin' man..." is a refrain you will hear quite often if you become a regular at Shorty's.32. (And I recommend that you do.) You see, the chef and owner of this snug, 32-seater on Prince Street loves him some Allman Brothers. So it will be playing. You may take in the softly lit room, admiring the ceiling hung with lamps in jewel-toned, tasseled shades, and tap your toe or sing along. It's allowed. Other common lines you'll hear spoken, though perhaps not sung, are: "This chicken is amazing. These short ribs are the best I've had! Can I have another spoonful of your soup? Hey, don't eat my fries!" Put these lines to a tune and together and we may have an altogether new kind of restaurant-as-musical. I'll tell you this-I'd sing for this food. Granted they might just throw it at me, but hey, I'm in. You see the food at Shorty's.32, a restaurant named for its somewhat vertically challenged chef and owner Josh Eden (he's 5' 3"), is the sort of food you want to eat every day. It's refined American comfort food, cooked in the style of chefs like Jonathan Waxman, Joey Campanaro, and Marc Meyer. There's a soulfulness to Josh's food that makes you feel good eating it, and a careful technique to the preparation that lets you know you're eating from the hands of someone who's been around greatness and absorbed many lessons. But the nicest part about Shorty's is that this terrific food is served in a wonderfully low-key spot that will have you wanting to stop in a few times a week.Review By: Andrea Strong
On a Sunday night, for instance, if I were in the ‘hood, I'd pop in at the bar with the Sunday Magazine for a Brooklyn Lager and a burger ($14)-a thick and juicy house-ground mound of short ribs, sirloin and beef topped with homemade bread and butter pickles, a nice slice of sharp red onion, a few ruffled leaves of iceberg, and a juicy tomato on a warm brioche bun served with what seems to be a parking lot's worth of skinny, salty golden fries. I'd try to leave without dessert, but I'd have to have the toasted pound cake ($7), a cake originally named for the pound of butter required in its total recipe and in this case, it seems, for just one slice.
After my burger on Sunday, I'd go back during the week for more of a meal with a bunch of friends, as I've done in the past with Jamie, Alison and Kiri. We were in early on in the days of Shorty's and sat at the corner table for four near the edge of the bar. We started off with the Jerusalem artichoke soup ($7), a rich yet delicate soup that's tastes like somehow a flat of Jerusalem artichokes has been turned into a nutty form of liquid cashmere. The fresh cavatelli, made in house on an old-fashioned hand-crank cavatelli machine, was also on our menu, tossed with arugula and wild mushroom ragu, though I wouldn't mind a little more heat and another handful of greens in there with the cavatelli. We also added the roasted squash salad, a beautiful ode to these sweet and starchy vegetables, adorned with sheets of pink proscuitto and cubes of fresh ricotta salata tossed in a Banyuls vinaigrette ($10).
Dinner was a tale of two fishes. First came the pan-roasted cod ($23)-a snowy filet balanced on a square of grilled bread, and a bed of Swiss chard and tangles of caramelized onions, set in a pool of Gruyere cheese broth. Yes, liquid cheese, like some deconstructed French onion soup. Second was the skate, which is now served with brown butter, capers, lemon and parsley ($19), but was then baked and smothered with a ragout of bacon, onions and tomatoes ($18) that I'd have eaten with a spoon, skate or no skate.
But Shorty's also beckons for an intimate dinner for two. While I haven't yet managed to find a night to have dinner there with Craig, I'm hoping we can score the corner banquette near the French doors one of these wintry nights. Since we generally agree on what to eat (read: he lets me do the ordering), I'd say we'd start with the braised pork belly with cranberry bean salad ($12), and the crispy crabsticks with basil remoulade ($14)-sweet King crab meat fashioned into Long John Silver-styled "fish sticks" that really eat like overly generous crabcakes that just happen to be rectangular in shape.
Next, we'd have the short ribs, braised until transformed into butter, with elbow macaroni and baby leeks grilled until soft and caramelized (a high-minded riff on beef with noodles, $25), and the roast chicken with chilled green bean salad, mashed potatoes and fried garlic ($19), another superb take on a home cooking classic. This sort of cooking lets you know that even though you're eating regular old chicken and potatoes, the guy who's cookin' that bird, blanchin' those beans and putting those ‘taters through a ricer is someone who cooked for Jean Georges Vongerichten for 12 years, and wound up his executive chef at JoJo and 66. This is ordinary comfort food in the same way that an iPhone is a run-of-the-mill cell.
While I love just about everything about Shorty's, I should warn you that if you're looking for serenity and calm from your dining experience won't find it here. The restaurant doesn't take reservations so it can be a bit chaotic, and you may have to wait at the somewhat cramped bar (but you'll be welcomed and made as comfortable as can be). And the acoustics are not great, so when the place is packed it feels like its 32 seats are more like 100. So you may have to do some screaming to communicate. Then again, you may want to keep it down so you can hear the Allman Brothers.
199 Prince St
New York, NY
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