photo credit: Teddy Wolff
We have feelings about the future of New American food, revolving primarily around the fact that almost none of it feels new. Instead, the phrase has become synonymous with extravagant dining rooms, too-cool-for-school service, and mains for two that cost more than $100. This is exactly what you’ll get at Crown Shy, a Tribeca spot that was once extremely happening, but is now the kind of place you take your parents when they’re visiting in the middle of the week.
The food at Crown Shy is not bad. We still find their grilled chicken, olive bread, gruyere fritters, and ice cream sundaes enjoyable enough. But Crown Shy presents itself as a restaurant that’s drawing from global influences, embracing seasonality, and generally trying to be creative. Ultimately, we don’t see those qualities on the plate, and that’s kind of a bummer. Best case scenario, you'll eat very standard "seasonal" American fare that isn’t tied to any particular season: chicken, bread, cheese, and ice cream.
There was a time when we’d have said you should absolutely go out of your way to eat at Crown Shy. Now, we think of it more as a utility spot. You’re in or near Tribeca, and you need to eat somewhere with a bit of polish and reliable-if-uninspiring food. In that situation, Crown Shy is a perfectly good choice. But it’s no longer the best.
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Pretty much everyone likes the olive bread at Crown Shy. It’s the first thing to hit your table, and it reminds us of Pillsbury crescent rolls slathered with olive tapenade and served with some nicely-salted labneh. Just be sure to eat it while it’s hot, because, like Pillsbury crescent rolls, it’s significantly less delicious at room temp.
If you come here, you should order these. As with the bread, eat them while they’re hot, when the cheese inside these bite-sized churros still tastes like Gruyere. Once cooled, it takes on the distinctive flavor of Cheez Wiz. Again, not bad, but not as good.
White Bean Hummus
Another reliable starter. Sometimes it’s served with puffy bread, sometimes it’s served with crisp veggies. We like the vegetable edition better, since it cuts the richness of the ‘nduja.
The dish that initially made people excited about Crown Shy is still a very good piece of chicken. It’s juicy, the outside has a pleasant, smoky char, and the hot sauce foam has a buzzy but not overwhelming amount of heat. The best main on the menu.
For the most part, we really like the desserts at Crown Shy, especially the sticky toffee pudding with apple sorbet. It tastes like school and autumn and being cozy, no matter what time of year it is. Their ice creams overall are very good, though the toppings are sometimes too sweet to balance out the equation.
A totally fine pasta dish that’s nothing special, even when served with in-season morel mushrooms. That about sums it up.