It’s hard to work up an appetite when the heat index is off the charts, the humidity is oppressive, and you can’t escape the stank of humanity on the street. But during the summer months, remember that food is not the enemy! In fact, eating certain foods can cool you down – and we’re not just talking about ice cream and popsicles. Chefs worth their salt know how to help you chill out, and tailor their menus specifically for the hottest months of the year.
Chilled or uncooked dishes like ceviche, crudo, mousse, and tartare will awaken your repressed hunger and refresh you at the same time. We’ve rounded up eight options for eats that beat the heat in New York City. Even better: most of the venues serving these summer-friendly dishes have outdoor seating. (Though we wouldn’t blame you for taking advantage of the air conditioning wherever you can get it.)
Newly opened Fort Greene haunt Hudson Jane features ceviche with corvina, a firm white fish, by Executive Chef Megan Johnson. The fish is cured in chamomile-lemon vinaigrette and served over thinly sliced heirloom tomatoes with shaved fennel and dill. Not in the mood for seafood? Try the chicken liver pate, which comes with crème fraiche, house-made jam and toast points.
Poke – diced sushi-grade ahi tuna – is an ideal nibble on a hot summer night. Experience Social Drink and Food’s version, seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, and honey, then finished with hijiki seaweed, tomato and red onion, at one of Manhattan’s largest rooftop bars.
Crudo (raw seafood – in this case fluke or tuna) is sure to cool you down. Executive Chef Frederic Duca serves his version with hearts of palm, radishes, avocado, and edible flowers at the contemporary French restaurant Racines NY. Prefer a surf-and-turf option? Try the chilled veal tartare (strip loin seasoned with lemon zest, capers, tarragon, and shallots) which comes with flash-seared razor clam.
Salmon is the perfect summer food because it tastes just as delicious cool as it does warm. The Salmone Estivo (“estivo” means “summery” in Italian) at Soho newcomer Altesi Downtown cures its salmon for 36 to 48 hours in a mix of various types of salt, pink peppercorns, and fennel seeds. The cubed fish is then accompanied by avocado and a refreshing green apple-cucumber yogurt sauce.
Sink your teeth into this interpretation of chaat, a popular South Asian street snack made with crispy lotus, avocado, peanuts, puffed rice, tamarind chutney, and edible flowers. Chef and Owner Gaurav Anand dishes up this creamy, crunchy, nutty creation at his new Chelsea eatery, aRoqa, which merges modern dining with traditional Indian cooking techniques and global ingredients.
Sandwiches are boring. Cutting boards are cool, especially when decked out in an assortment of cured meats, cheeses, and served with crusty bread and accompaniments. Add a bottle of vino and you’re at the height of sophistication. Altesi Madison’s Salumi and Formaggi is more than a snack but less than a meal so you can stoke your appetite without getting overfull.
Fresh hummus is a summer snacking standby. It’s even better when house-made like it is at Mediterranean-Middle Eastern inspired Miss Ada in Fort Greene. Chef and Owner Tomer Blechman purees chickpeas with tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil to make his hummus, then tops it with whole chickpeas, chopped parsley, mint, and marjoram from the backyard garden. Additional hummus toppings include lamb shwarma, tomato and cucumber, or chicken liver with onions. Savor it yourself or share with friends.
Chef Brian Leth of Faun plates his lamb tartare atop a vibrant green garbanzo falafel (in lieu traditional toasted bread) and uses orange and grated bottarga (cured fish roe) for bright accents. Also try spreading the chicken liver mousse atop house-made piadina (Italian flatbread), accompanied by crispy chicken skin, pickled celery, and concord grape reduction.