*CLOSED as of 2011*
Sometimes you have a great night, a perfect storm of delicious allergen-free dining. Last week I had such a night at Shorty’s.32 .
[Believe me it’s not always like this. Last week, the night before the perfect dining storm, I went to an UWS neighborhood resto, Bodrum, that was a comedy of errors: clueless servers, inept bus boys, befuddled management made worse by a line on the menu that said “Tell our server if you have any allergies”, which was met with a complete lack of training about the issue on any level. Sigh.]
Shari and I made a plan to go try Chef Josh Eden’s cooking at his new spot Shorty’s.32 when it opened in October to much hullabaloo in Eater,
Food and Wine, and more recently in the New York Times. And darn, it was shuttered that day.
I was particularly curious to go because I recalled that a sweet kid named Josh Eden lived in my apartment building growing up. We shared the school bus for years. I had a very specific picture of him in my mind: brown curly hair, low gravely voice, smart, funny, and a “shorty”.
Could this possibly be the same one?
I called the night before and asked the nice man who picked up the phone how the chef felt about handling food allergies and to my delight it was Josh who answered. He said he felt comfortable handling allergies and he remembered me too!
Upon entering Shorty's .32, we were greeted by Antonio, my former seat savior at Lupa. He had been my champion, making sure my food was allergen-friendly and that I got a table or a seat at the cozy bar despite the often one hour wait. I was a regular at Lupa for about 3 years in my still vegetarian, pre-wheat and dairy intolerance days. Often, I would go weekly. Yes, weekly. The pasta wasn’t expensive then, the staff was allergen-friendly, they had vegetarian options, and the spot was always jumping.
Back at Shorty's, we put our name on the table list with Antonio, they have 32 seats, but opted to stay at the cozy bar, manned this night by preppy-boy, crossword-doing, he’s-no-saint Paul who also treated us to desserts that I couldn't eat as they were dairy and wheaty but a lovely idea. Thanks again Paul. Chef Josh, Antonio, and Paul kept us company and laughing all night.
Good news: there are no nuts in the kitchen. Yes! I was informed that they don’t use nuts or nut oils in any of their dishes. I don’t know that they could go so far as to say they are a nut free restaurant [because who can make that claim unless you make everything from scratch like the flours, oils, etc] but knowing that there weren’t nuts being flung about back in the kitchen made ordering easier. [CORRECTION: During a second visit, Chef informed me they DO have nuts in the kitchen: hazelnut oil in the quinoa salad and nuts on one fish dish. But this is by far not a "nutty" kitchen and Chef is very aware about how to keep a nut-allergic diner safe as one of his closest friends has severe allergies!]
The menu is tight and focused: comfort, homey food is the name of the game here. The chicken has been getting raves; here's Chef Josh Eden cooking his chicken for New York Magazine. Chicken is usually an easy way to start when breaking in a new resto so I ordered that with pickled beets instead of the dairy-filled mashed potato. The beets, both red and yellow were on the sweet side, quite good, but veeery sweet as was my side of green beans. Chef Josh must have quite a sweet tooth as sweet was a theme with both of our dishes. Shari had the braised short-ribs which was equally Allergic Girl friendly and what I will have when I go back again this week or next.
Yes, folks that how this Allergic Girl rolls. When I find a place that feeds me safely and well, I go back often. Shorty’s.32 specializes in comfort food with a homey and welcoming atmosphere. I look forward to returning and trying more of Chef Josh Eden’s menu.
199 Prince St.,