The Restaurant of the Summer Is Wherever You Can Find Strong Creamsicle Energy. Maybe.
Investigating the creamsicle situation at a Williamsburg rooftop (Jaffa), a Dominican spot (Seguidillas), and a hip Noho bar (Jac's on Bond)
It’s around this time of the year that assorted members of the food media declare a Restaurant of the Summer, or at least a contender for that title. I’ve always enjoyed such informal designations as they carry less gravity than Michelin stars or Best New Restaurants. Folks who assign the so-called winners typically do so without offering too much hand wringing, as if they were choosing a favorite Harry Styles haircut or LaCroix flavor. We need more of this.
I once dubbed Santina Restaurant of the Summer after getting hyped up on too many coconut cold brews there. It was located in a Renzo Piano glass cube where “Mambo Italiano” piped through the sound system and where air conditioning vents caused indoor palm fronds to gently sway. The AC trick created the impression that you were sucking down $16 cocktails alongside Aperol-hued tourists on the Amalfi Coast, as opposed to standing inside a human fishbowl in Meatpacking next to someone who used to work at Goldman. Not quite a free city pool, I suppose, but it was fun while it lasted. Anyway, now it’s a Shake Shack.
So we’re not exactly employing the scientific method here, but there is at least some method to declaring a summertime gustatory crush. With that in mind, let’s consider the case of Jaffa, a breezy Israeli-ish shellfish bar at the Hoxton in Williamsburg. It’s Michael Solomonov’s third restaurant in the hotel, after Laser Wolf (a very good skewer spot) and K’Far (a hub for babka, bourekas, and larger plates).
Is Jaffa a strong candidate for Restaurant of the Summer? It is, but let’s assess: