Don’t cry over summer’s unofficial end on Labor Day weekend. Instead, celebrate the turn of seasons with a last, luscious taste of summer’s waning glories. Here’s our bucket list of great hot-weather dishes around town. All are ideal for alfresco noshing at restaurants’ sidewalk and street patios or at home, though some items are available for takeout and delivery — call first.
If there’s a standout ingredient this year, it’s tomatoes — a bumper crop that turns up in three of our four savory choices. Local corn’s surprisingly in short supply — chef Daniel Boulud says it faded after late July, but “we’re checking out the late harvest.” Until then, we found a great substitute in a sumptuous corn pudding that’s still going strong. Let the late-summer feast begin!
A bird in the hand
The Mexican Stiletto ($16) cocktail at French bistro LouLou is a potent, sweet elixir of prized, floral-accented Codijo 1530 Rosa tequila, grapefruit, agave and Peychaud’s bitters. If the formula isn’t enough to make your senses soar, the adorable, bird-shaped vessel in which it’s served will do the trick. Sip it through a straw in the tail.
LouLou, 176 Eighth Ave. (West 19th Street), 212-337-9577
Few lobster rolls taste of the ocean as much as this flavorful new dish at Gramercy Tavern. Chef Mike Anthony lavishes tender, chopped Nova Scotia lobster on an Orwasher’s potato bun with rib-tickling, house-made garlic aioli and cherry tomatoes. ($34 a la carte or $39 for pickup/delivery as part of a dinner set with a hazelnut chocolate brownie.) A fire-grilled zucchini salad adds to the picnic mood. It’s available only for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays, but they promise it won’t disappear any time soon.
Gramercy Tavern, 42 E. 20th St., 212-477-0777. www.GramercyTavern.com
Put up your cukes
If you’ve got gazpacho fatigue, Bar Boulud’s ($14) version is a complex and refreshing take on the often one-note soup. Cucumber and green grape juices are textured with yogurt and bread crumbs. Sherry vinegar and garlic lend pungency; a dash of chili oil provides spark. Garnish of diced avocado, grapes and croutons pile on the pleasure with textural contrast.
Bar Boulud, 1900 Broadway (West 64th Street). 212-593-0303 www.barboulud.com
It’s that time of ear
The seared Faroe Island salmon at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s JoJo is succulent through and through — order it medium-rare. But it’s the lake of creamy and cheesy corn pudding, made from freshly peeled kernels, that steals the show in this $38 masterpiece. Halved tomatoes on top are a final sweet kiss-off to summer. Available through September.
JoJo, 160 E. 64th St., 212-223-5656. www.JoJorestaurantnyc.com
A tomato triumph
Served on Nougatine’s charming elevated patio, this composed medley of deliciously juice-gushing, tricolor tomatoes, blackberries and summer fruits ($23) delivers a starburst of earth-borne flavors. Sherry vinaigrette is delicately applied to accentuate the fruits without overpowering them. Fresh basil adds a fragrant note. On the menu through September.
Nougatine, 1 Central Park West (Trump Hotel at Columbus Circle), 212-299-3900 www.Jean-GeorgesRestaurant.com
While some places experiment with funky flavors, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory takes the high road with classics, all made in small batches on the premises: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, butter pecan and coffee ($6 for one scoop, $9 for three scoops; sundaes $9 and $10). The place prides itself on purity and flavor consistency, and the great river views from under the Brooklyn Bridge add to the fun.
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, 14 Old Fulton St., Brooklyn (near River Café restaurant at East River), 718-522-5211; Brooklynicecreamfactory.com
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