Most advice comes with exceptions. You should put the letter I before E, unless it follows the letter C. You should take this medicine, unless you’re wary of potential side effects like headache, nausea, or death. And you should go for the subway car that’s least full, unless it’s suspiciously empty. There are, however, a select few recommendations that come without caveats - wear sunblock, get eight hours of sleep, and don’t bribe anyone to get your kid into college. We have one more to add: Go to Crown Shy.
Crown Shy is a new American spot in FiDi from people who formerly helped run Eleven Madison Park and Del Posto, and like those fine dining restaurants, it’s impressive. Once you walk through the landmarked building’s marble lobby, you’ll find yourself in a dining room with high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and leather booths, which are often filled with client dinners and couples celebrating another year of sleeping with one person.
But unlike places like Eleven Madison Park and Del Posto, Crown Shy is casual enough for weeknight dates, or dinner with the one coworker you could actually see becoming your friend. There’s a big, walk-in-only bar area - where you can drink cocktails while waiting for your table, or sit and order from the full food menu - and the dishes, which are brought out by servers in sneakers and t-shirts, are mostly under $20.
The menu is versatile. Anyone who always orders the chicken will be able to maneuver around it without any trouble, but if you’re someone who follows restaurant openings like day traders monitor the Dow, you’ll still find something exciting about every dish. The perfectly-creamy hummus, for example, is mixed with spicy ’nduja, and served with an inflated ball of paper-thin fried bread. Crudo and charred octopus tend to be as noteworthy as white Vans and Owen Wilson, but here the red snapper is topped with a cracker that tastes like an everything bagel, and the charred octopus is covered with ramps and served over a ton of chorizo and spicy jus. From the house bread infused with olive tapenade to the banana ice cream infused with caramel, there’s not a single miss on the menu, and each bite makes you more excited to recommend this place to everyone you know.
Everything at Crown Shy is meant to be shared, but this isn’t the kind of restaurant where you’ll have to ask your friend if she wants half of your oyster. It’s a place where you feel like you’re getting a lot for your money. Just one of the incredible gruyere fritters is pretty filling, but you’ll want to eat all seven in this $13 dish because they’re basically cheese-filled churros. You can find $12 glasses or $30 bottles of wine, and if you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can ask the sommelier for good-value recommendations and end up with pinot noir from Germany or an excellent red blend from the Languedoc in France. And most of the entrees hover around $30, including a big plate of citrusy, spicy grilled chicken, which will become the benchmark for chicken in the same way The Sopranos is for television.
We’d tell you to go out of your way for Crown Shy no matter where it opened - but it stands out even more in FiDi, a neighborhood with very few destination restaurants. Just like people in Stuy-Town do with Trader Joe’s, those who live or work here now have a place to brag about to everyone. Or, if they feel like being helpful, they can recommend it. No caveats required.
T-shirts shot out of a canon, unconditional love, and this house olive bread are all among the best things in life that don’t cost a thing. It’s like a popover filled with olive tapenade, topped with crumbled brown butter and lemon, and served with labneh that’s like a mix between whipped butter and sour cream. Ask for seconds and thirds.
In a surprise to absolutely no one, filling churros with melted cheese is an extremely good idea. You get seven in each order, and they come topped with chili and lime powders to help keep the dish from feeling like you’re eating dessert.
The creamy hummus, spicy ’nduja, and sugary puffed bread are each great on their own. And they’re even better together.
A lot of crudos are some combination of overpriced and underwhelming, but this red snapper - which is thick, tender, and topped with a crunchy sesame tuile - is definitely neither of those things.
There are a lot of excellent vegetables at Crown Shy, but this is our favorite. The caramelized, slightly salty carrots are served alongside little chunks of briny razor clams, in a foam that tastes like New England clam chowder.
On the one hand, this goat cheese-filled pasta that’s served over butter sauce is heavy, and you shouldn’t fill up on just one dish here. On the other hand, it’s incredible. So get it as an appetizer to share.
If you only associate farro with overpriced fast-casual spots where you try to eat healthy lunches, this will form new neural pathways in your brain. It’s basically a farro stew, topped with big pieces of intensely-flavored lamb and crispy grains, and surrounded by a pool of lamb neck jus you should scoop up with a spoon.
This perfectly-cooked, slightly charred octopus with ramps and chorizo is a must-order.
This is the best half-chicken in the city. Every bite of meat is equal parts juicy and tender, and the housemade hot sauce is phenomenal.
The short rib itself is perfectly-cooked - but the reason this should be on your table is what comes on the side. Take a scoop of the potato foam, and when your fork comes up with short rib braised ends hidden at the bottom, you’ll get flashbacks to finding a prize at the bottom of a cereal box.
The middle part of this pork chop is like tender, thick-cut ham. The outsides, though, are pretty dry. There are better entrees here.
If you ordered right at Crown Shy, at this point you should be extremely full. But you need dessert. The ice creams, like banana ice cream infused with caramel and chocolate ice cream infused with creme fraiche, are fantastic across the board. But the best dessert is the sticky toffee pudding with apple sorbet.