Technically, I already posted on Shorty’s .32, but damnit, it deserves more attention! My husband, Chris, was working late and so my friend (and awesome cook), Nick, took me out for my birthday on short notice. I had the choice to go anywhere at all… So where did I pick? Shorty’s .32. With my history of bad luck, I needed to do everything possible to guarantee a great meal on my birthday – I was in no mood to be anything less than thrilled. Remember what I said about my family being cheap (even though it did pay for college)? Well there’s nothing more offensive than paying for a meal that’s mediocre! Shorty’s is like a sure-thing (not in the Kentucky Derby way – it’s actually a safe bet). They should have a sign that says, “Send us your tired and hungry and we will return them fat and happy.” This is one of the few restaurants in the city that make me long for my old, six-figure life. If I were still pulling in the Benjamins, I would probably eat at Shorty’s every damn night. Actually, with prices so damn reasonable, I could even eat there for half of that. Unfortunately, I’m making a fraction of half of that: a lot more Lincolns than Bens, and I’m talking about the copper kind.
It rained all day on my birthday, as if God were laughing so hard at me that he was crying. Words can’t describe the feeling of walking into Shorty’s warm, dimly lit dining room and sitting down under the upside-down lampshades hanging from the ceiling. We ordered two glasses of both soothing and refreshing rosé (shame on me for not writing down the name & variety!) and were thrilled upon receiving an amuse-bouche of hot Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, topped with more sunchoke in deep-fried, delicious chip form. Cold and rainy, please meet hot, decadent deliciousness.
On top of that, I’ve never been so happy to be wrong (and I’ve been wrong A LOT) – the freaking lick-your-plate-clean mushroom cavatelli is still rocking the appetizer menu! I split that and the always sumptuous crabsticks with Nick and we returned both plates like nothing had ever touched its porcelain skin. The cavatelli was so tender and sautéed mushrooms so flavorful that my sense of cooking inadequacy could only be soothed by another bite. The crispy crabsticks with basil rémoulade will make non-crab lovers into converts… not that I know any non-crab-lovin’ people. Chef Shorty (Josh Eden) was super kind and sent out his tuna tartare with homemade nori chips as a birthday gift! Thank the Shorty, because it, too, was scrape-the-plate good. The tartare was perfectly seasoned, but it was the nori chips that really stole the show. These yummy umami crisps should be bagged and sold over-the-counter!
The humbling appetizers were trumped by entrées that made me further question my place in the culinary world. Again: best burger in NYC. Perhaps you don’t like a perfectly medium-rare ground shortrib, tenderloin, and chuck blend burger topped with melted blue cheese, crispy bacon, red onions, tangy pickles and crunchy lettuce… Maybe you’re also a communist. But I’m an American (by way of Vietnam, but still born & raised in the Boss land) and I freaking drop everything for a good, nay, the BEST cheeseburger. Nick dined on roasted cod with ramps and cream sauce on a potato pancake. What’s not to like? Ramps? Good. Roast Cod? Good. Creamy Sauce? Good. Rampy cream sauce-soaked latka??? Gooooooddddd!
Dessert was a local apple cobbler a la mode that was mildly sweet – not ridiculously sugary! The hot apple cobbler and cold, cold vanilla ice cream paired perfectly to complete a night dedicated to coming in from the rain. After I blew out my birthday candle and indulged in bite after bite of apple cobbler goodness, I reflected on how grateful I was on this birthday for two reasons: 1) So far, I had not broken my finger or any other body part… yet and 2) I love how it’s a rule that foods that you eat on your birthday are without calories – because before Shorty’s, I had lunched on a ½ lb of bacon and leftover biscuits. Maybe 29 won’t be such a bad year… maybe I shouldn’t have said that…