Let’s get this out of the way–Crown Shy is a horrible name for a restaurant. It sounds like one of the nonsensical names that owners like to give to their thoroughbred race horses. We stopped by for dinner over the summer at this new restaurant in the Financial District, and the server was explaining the name’s origins to the table next to us. It took too long and it still didn’t make any sense. It’s also located in an ugly Art Deco lobby that looked like the one from my first NYC apartment. Right off the bat I was a little skeptical of this fine dining Financial District newcomer.
But there’s something to that Shakespearean quote “what’s in a name?” Because despite the name Crown Shy, and the strangeness of the location, the restaurant won me over with its impressive pastry-driven masterpieces. It’s run by a former Eleven Madison Park chef, so you know that your meal wouldn’t be a bad one, but it’s still so surprising to be eating destination-worthy, high end food in this part of town.
Crown Shy especially excels in bread. It could probably pivot and pass off as a fancy bakery if it wanted to. The tableside bread, which was an olive bread that pulled apart like a flaky phyllo and tasted like a buttery brioche, was excellent. The gruyere fritters were essentially delicious mini, savory churros filled with cheese. And the winning streak continued with the white bean hummus and puffed bread. If only all flatbreads could taste like this.
These starters are labeled “snacks”, but they’re a bit rich, so you can easily fill up on these if you’re not careful. Try to avoid that, because then you would miss out on something like the charred carrots and razor clams, which is one of the best versions of clam chowder you might ever order. The grilled citrus-marinated chicken with hot sauce tasted like a fancy version of the chicken from Pio Pio. There’s a common theme here, in which these foods remind you of some of the comforting and familiar foods we eat in the everyday, but they’re done in a much more elevated way.
And because this is a fancy bakery with savory options, the desserts at Crown Shy are predictably delicious. There were so many options–chocolate mousse, sticky toffee pudding, so many greatest hits–and ultimately we went with the chocolate mousse. In my opinion, the mousse was a little too complicated. It was layers and layers of different types of chocolate and chocolate textures, and what I wanted was just something soft and creamy. But overall I was impressed by every dish that came out of this kitchen, and I was very relieved that Crown Shy didn’t live up to its strange name.
70 Pine St (between Pearl and William St)
New York, NY 10005