At Laser Wolf, dinner is even better than sunset

On a recent evening at Laser Wolf, a new rooftop restaurant at the Hoxton Hotel in Williamsburg, a friendly but authoritative woman dutifully darted from table to table, stopping at each one. “We’re cheering for the sunset,” she announced. “Don’t panic.” For a moment the service seemed to stop. Bodies shifted west as the collective gaze settled on sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline. The phones were pulled. As the shimmering orb flowed behind the Con Ed clock tower, the blue sky fading to gold, the dramatic rays backlighting the clouds of cotton balls, the applause rose, accompanied by of cheers.

With a view like this, the food and drink could easily be secondary, let alone a total rip off. At Laser Wolf, an outpost of the beloved Philadelphia restaurant of the same name (a cheeky reference to “Fiddler on the Roof”), Israeli-American chef Michael Solomonov and restaurateur Steve Cook, it’s the setting that seems negligible. The last time I had eaten at a Solomonov-Cook restaurant was in 2018, just before a Chelsea Market location closed in Dizengoff, their Philadelphia hummus counter. Windowless aisle seating never deterred me from the deliciously silky whipped hummus, a meal in itself, topped with ground lamb and pomegranate molasses, and za’atar roast chicken.

What a relief to find this hummus, as the centerpiece of Laser Wolf’s helloa wide range of salads and dips delivered to the table as soon as you order any of the grilled dishes from the menu, in the style of an Israeli shipudia, or “skewer house”. Choose a cocktail – my group gasped at the beauty of Saz-Arak, two cold, crisp fingers of rye and arak, an aniseed spirit – and a skewer, and you’re done with the decisions; dessert is also included. There’s also a small range of a la carte additions, but let me make it easy for you: get the thick, twice-cooked fries, fizzy with salt, and the lightly spiced, sweet date harissa wings. , served with tahini ketchup and tahini ranch, respectively.

The hello are uniformly excellent, a roulette that has only lucky slots: creamy white jumbo beans sprinkled with torn Castelvetrano olives; a surprising and refreshing combination of diced pineapple and celery shavings in a smoked pineapple puree; earthy roasted mushrooms with kale ruffles and a splash of sour cherry juice. The warm, fluffy pita is perfect, especially for sliding into the baba ghanoush and hummus, a generous spiral finished with olive oil, za’atar and parsley.

After such a comprehensive opening, the adjective “main” doesn’t quite apply to the next class, which doesn’t mean it’s not an event. Succulent and shaggy short ribs braised with passion fruit amba, an Iraqi Jewish sauce traditionally prepared from pickled green mango, before its edges become crispy over smoldering charcoal. Velvety chunks of tuna are crusted in coriander and caraway seeds and glazed in a North African-style chili paste called harif. The chicken shishlik (Hebrew for “skewer”) can’t compete with wings, but the gamy flavor of steak shishlik comes from behind; it’s much simpler but no less exciting than the koobidehmade with homemade ground beef and lamb seasoned with sumac, turmeric, dill and celery seeds.

The enticing scent of fried garlic and amba puffing on a grilled eggplant turned me into a cartoon character, poking my nose in the air, looking for another puff. One evening I was disappointed to realize that I had inadvertently made my hard-earned reservation for the counter, where I was perched on a stool looking out at the open kitchen instead of the view. But I came to see the advantage: a place in the front row of the ballet which produced this aubergine; a close look at a row of whole cauliflowers on a cart, dry-rubbed in shawarma spices and waiting their turn to be brought to crumble. I watched, mesmerized, as pretty spools of soft brown sugar rolled out of a dispenser, to be topped with pistachios, cherry jam and tiny pearls of puffed rice. I applaud the kitchen. (Grill items, including salatim and soft serve, $43 to $175.)

About Francis Harris

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