Down the block from the New York Stock Exchange, across the street from Claremont Prep School, and hidden behind construction scaffolding on the second floor of the Setai Hotel, you'll find one of the city's best new fine dining restaurants: SHO Shaun Hergatt, which quietly opened last month. And despite its elegant interior and formal service, it's not as out of touch with the economy as you might expect; at $69, Chef Hergatt's three course prix fixe is actually a good deal, considering the impeccable quality of the ingredients and dazzling execution.

During a recent visit, Hergatt, an intense Australian who did time at the now-closed Atelier in midtown, let us sample some of the dishes and took us for a tour of the gigantic, gorgeous space, pointing out that the ceiling tiles hanging on the wall were recovered from a temple in Thailand that was being demolished. Other design elements include enormous fountains, antique Chinese calligraphy brushes, mother of pearl table tops and shell dessert trays, Sanskrit prayer scrolls from Burma, lots of Brazilian walnut, and a Tibetan bell hidden in salt to ward off bad spirits.

But does Hergatt have a prayer bell to draw in good, paying customers? He's hoping the restaurant's versatility will appeal to a broad crowd, so the space is divided up into a relaxed bar and lounge, a formal dining room with a commanding view of the open kitchen, a second smaller bar, and a glassy wine tasting room. And if the food we sampled off Hergatt's "modern French, Asian-accented" menu was at all representative, we think he may actually pull this off. (Blogger Always Hungry NY predicts SHO will be Frank Bruni's last four star review before stepping down.)

The Slow Roasted Langoustines with Potato Lace, Burmese Lobster Bisque was rich and unforgettable; and the Slow Poached Halibut with silky Celeriac, White Asparagus, and Black Truffle was tender as a cloud. And the Peekytoe Crab with Galangal Gelee and Santa Barbara Uni isn't exactly the sort of thing we eat every day, and that's an outrage. At the bar, cocktails are a cost-prohibitive $14, but a Tennesse Trader (Bourbon, White Peach Puree, Honey Syrup, Ginger Ale) was smooth, sweet and didn't disappoint. The bottom line here is that Hergatt's a seriously ambitious chef, and if you've got a hundred bucks or so to drop on a fancy dinner, you'll get your money's worth here. Peruse the menu below.

SHO Shaun Hergatt // The Setai, New York, Second Level 40 Broad Street (at Exchange Place) // (212) 809-3993

The menu at SHO Shaun Hergatt is served á la carte, but is also recommended as a two course prix fixe for $57 and a three course prix fixe for $69. Appetizers: $16 - $20 Main Courses: $25 - $35 Desserts: $12

Appetizer

Kona Kampachi

Live Geoduck, young Ginger and Soy

Salad of Organic Tokyo Turnips

Baby Beets, Garden Radish, Persian Feta

Spiced Double Duck Consommé

Ravioli Filled with Chicken and Truffles

Zucchini Blossoms filled with Blue Prawns

Lemongrass and Kaffir Lime leaf Scented Sambal

Salt Pressed ‘Petuna’ Tasmanian Ocean Trout

Nashi Pear, Kalamansi Dressing

Hand Picked Peekytoe Crab

Galangal Gelee, Santa Barbara Uni

Red Chili and Coconut Milk Glazed Quail

Shiitake, Wilted Tetragonia

Millefeuille of Foie Gras

Pain D’Epices Tuiles, Banyuls Reduction

Slow Roasted Langoustines

Potato Lace, Burmese Lobster Bisque

The Golden Egg

Cauliflower Puree, Caviar

(Supplement 15)


Main Course

Caramelized Scottish Salmon

Hon Shemiji, Tatsoi, thai Basil Froth

Steamed Black Bass

Ginger Infused Broth, Scallion Oil, “Nishiki” Rice Wafer

Slow Poached Halibut

Silky Celeriac, White asparagus, Black Truffle

Maine Lobster “Poêlé”

English Peas, Saffron and Verjus Emulsion

(Supplement 10)

Yogurt Marinated Poussin

Urfa Spice, Adzuki, Grain Mustard

Muscovy Duck Breast

Sautéed Foie Gras, Red Hibiscus, Sauce Bigarade

Milk Fed Veal Tenderloin

Pommes Almondine, Mirepoix Vegetables, Morels

Thai Pepper Dusted Beef

Glazed Beef Cheek, Pearl Onion Soubise

“River and Glenn” Rabbit Loins

Coco Beans, Parsnip Roesti, Natural Sauce

Pearl Barley Risotto

Maitake Mushrooms, Baby Swiss Chard

Chef Shaun Hergatt

Dessert Wines

ChÂteau Guiraud, Sauternes 1998 $26

Petit Manseng, ‘Symphonie de Novembre,’ Domaine Cauhape, Jurançon 2005 $14

Braquetto d’Aqui Braida, Piemonte 2007 $12

Gewurztraminer, ‘Passito,’ Francis Tannahill, Oregon 2006 $20

Fortified Wines

Coume del mas, ‘quintessence,’ Banyuls 2005 $22

Graham’s 20 year tawny, Oporto NV $19

Dow’s ‘quinta do bonfim,’ Oporto 1996 $18

Campbell’s, Muscat, Ruthgerglen, NV $9

Fortified Sake

Katsuyama Genroku Aged Junmai, Miyagi $22

Desserts

Chocolate and Jasmine Inspiration

Pomelo Confit, Floral Jasmine Tea Sorbet

Rhubarb Tart

Ginger Cremeux, Lychee Sorbet

Citrus Palette

Milk Chocolate Ganache, Passionfruit Ice Cream,

Java Sphere

Candied Cocoa Nibs, Mandarin Chantilly

Rosella Tapioca

Lemongrass Consommé, Pink Guava Sorbet

Banana Millefeuille

Jackfruit Confit, Crème Fraîche Sorbet


Cheese

Farm House Cheeses

Fresh Honeycomb, Cranberry and Pecan Loaf