I'm able to restart gnome-shell whenever I feel like it. I don't know what your doing wrong, though.In the meantime I'll use kde 4 where I can kill and restart plasma and kwin however I like.
I do like the direction gnome 3 is heading, though. 3.2 is an improvement on 3.0 on all regards, with pretty much no regression in functionality or stability. The 3.4 feature-set is shaping up nicely, improving on 3.2 in small but significant ways.
I mainly wish for three things now:
a) An updated gnome-terminal with support for split screen and quake-style behavior (drop down from top of screen on keypress).
b) A way to hide the top panel whenever a maximized application receives focus (as a gnome-shell extension maybe?)
c) Updated fglrx drivers that work with gnome-shell, or radeon drivers with improved power management. Even with minimum clocks, radeon consumes significantly more power than fglrx on my laptop.
As I've said many times before, I've given many refurbed machines running distros like Mandrake, Ubuntu and Fedora over the years, pretty much all of them given to people that know fuckall about technology, changing the desktop on them without warning just isn't cool, nor is the loss of many old GPU drivers. They don't know how to switch desktops, they don't even know what a DE is.
Linux is spreading out from the geek and nerd crowd, expecting X lever of technical skill is no longer an option, especially if we want see Linux taken more seriously by device makers. To get that there has to be more consistency in the user experience so that anyone of any tech level can jump on any desktop distro with any general purpose DE and use it.