When Laser Wolf opened on the rooftop of Williamsburg’s Hoxton hotel in May, it quickly became one of the city’s toughest reservations. It’s the only New York restaurant from critically acclaimed, Philadelphia-based chef Mike Solomonov (at least his only one for now) boasting incredible skyline views and an Israeli menu centered around the grill. Needless to say, the Notify list is long.
Haven’t been able to get a table? That’s where we come in. We sat down with Laser Wolf Brooklyn general manager Brian Jackson to get the inside scoop on how to get in, and what to order once you do.
Note: This interview has been condensed and lightly edited.
Resy: How many seats are there at Laser Wolf?
Jackson: Roughly 100, if we include the bar (12 seats) and kitchen counter (eight seats).
What has been the most popular seating area? What’s the best seat in the house?
All of our tables have a view, but people would rather be at a table along the railing. Even the bar seats [which face the grill and wall] swivel so all you have to do is turn around.
Are all the seats outside?
Yes, it’s totally open air. If there is bad weather, there are curtains that come down so it will be enclosed. The curtains that come down are actually clear, so you can still see the view. As we head into the wintertime, it will still be comfortable up here. There’s a sunshade that can go back, but the roof is always here. So even when it rains, we’re totally fine. It’s all-weather, all-season. We have heaters along the wall here. We also have air conditioning units.
Will there be any changes for the winter?
We had all the heaters installed in February, so we tested them out back then when it was cold and it’s still very comfortable, especially once the grills are going. It’s not a place where you’re going to have to be wearing your winter jacket to dine up here.
Right now our cocktail program is based on summertime on a rooftop, so it’s a lot of fresh juices, it’s a little bit lighter. As we get into winter, we’ll definitely go a little boozier, and maybe add a hot cocktail. It will definitely evolve.
When do reservations drop on Resy?
They open at 10 a.m. 21 days in advance.
How quickly are they typically booked up?
Very, very quick. Within the first 15 to 20 minutes, they’re all pretty much gone. Looking right now, there’s still some availability later in the evening. Those late-night reservations will go though. We’re still full on a Tuesday in August at 10:30 p.m. We’re all always in awe. None of us has dealt with something like this.
What You Need to Know
Plan Ahead: Reservations drop 21 days out at 10 am.
The Layout: There are 100 seats: 80 at the tables, eight at the kitchen counter, and 12 bar stools.
Pro Tip: Once you snag a table, ask if you can make your next reservation on your way out. The team will try and make it happen. If you’re a night owl, walk-ins usually have good luck after 10.
Walk On In: The 12 bar seats are reserved for walk ins. Get there at 5 p.m. on a weekday for the best chance at a seat.
Prime Time: Sunset, when the team leads a nightly sunset clap and diners clamor to to take in the view (and take photos.)
Must-Orders: The fries take three days to make and come with a special tehina ketchup. Pro tip: Ask for a side of tehina ranch with the fries.
Do you hold any seats for walk ins?
The bar is fully reserved for walk ins. We have 12 bar seats and the kitchen counter. When we try to move some of those early reservations [away from the kitchen counter], we’ll offer those up. The kitchen counter is bookable on Resy; it will say kitchen counter on the reservation and all the other ones are tables. We’ll have some last-minute cancellations, so we’ll try to put some walk ins there. We reserve the bar strictly for walk-ins; it’s really a dining bar. It’s not a place where we invite people up just to hang out. So if you’re dining, you have arms going in between you [and there’s space for that].
We do allow people to come up and order a drink and offer the patio if they’re just having a drink. The patio has high seats but we don’t offer service out there. We really want people who walk in and sit at the bar to have the same experience and we don’t want it to be too crowded so they can have the same level of service.
Walk-ins are mostly for the bar but if a table becomes available, we’ll try. We have a lot of solo diners at the bar or at the kitchen counter, at the bar. They can sit down and have a salatim tray, or they can do the full menu with a grill item, or they can also just order wings, fries, and a drink.
What’s the usual wait time for walk ins? What’s the best time to stop by?
If you come right at 5, it won’t be too long. If you’re one of the first people here, we’ll get you in. I will say once we go on a list though, it will probably be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half. It kind of depends; for some people at the bar, with the sunset, they say, “I’m gonna have another drink” so they stay. We don’t have a policy where your table is for this long; we don’t want to restrict parties, so it just really depends. It’s not an exact science. The best time to try is at 5 or after 10.
How long do the waitlists usually get?
The waitlist can get, honestly not that crazy, maybe about 30 people [long]. Because at a certain point, if it’s 9 o’clock and we’re telling people an hour-and-a-half wait, it’s not ideal. But if it’s 5 or 6, they might go grab a drink in the area.
Do hotel guests get any advantage in getting a seat?
The communication with the hotel team when guests book or ask about Laser Wolf is to still book via Resy, just like anyone else. But we do communicate with the front desk that if we hear that a guest is having trouble, we’ll try to get them in as much as possible.
But we do offer room service. It’s a small Laser Wolf menu, like kebabs over rice, our chicken wings and fries, and things like that. So there is a way for guests to still eat Laser Wolf. We do our best so we’ll talk to guests, like “How long are you staying here?” And that lets me look at the book and see if another night is better so they can plan around it.
What about the Resy Notify List? How long is your Notify List on average?
I looked at tomorrow and currently the Notify List is 1,388 people. That Notify List is never less than 1,000. It will be over 1,500 most nights of the week and those 1,300-1,500 people will equate to 400 to 500 tables.
When guests tell me how hard it is to get a reservation I let them know, you’re not the only one, we try. It’s not something we’re doing. It’s just a product of the weather and all the great buzz and word of mouth we’ve had.
The day before or the day of is the best time to get a Notify. We send out that confirmation text and that’s when we’ll get a flow of cancellations. But again, if there’s 1,300 on the Notify list and there’s one reservation, it’s tough.
When would you say is the busiest time? And how many covers do you do on the busiest nights?
Honestly right now, every day is busy; we don’t have a slow night of the week. We’re doing the same number of covers on a Monday as we are on a Friday except we’re open an hour later. We’re doing between 280 and 300 covers on our busiest nights. So we’re doing a little more on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Prime time is always like 6:30 to 8 p.m., right when the sun is setting; that’s kind of the magic hour where everyone wants to be here. Especially this time of year, as the sun starts to set, it gets a little bit cooler. If you’re someone who’s worried about the heat, between 7 and 8, it really starts to cool down as the sun sets and you get that spectacular sunset. It changes every single night; it’s incredible some nights.
We do a sunset clap. At 7:50 p.m. the sun is just above the buildings and about to hide behind it. We’ll gather all our teams and we’ll kind of say alright it’s time. I walk around the room and let all of our team know we’re about to do the sunset clap. And then one of us will take the lead and say “look at the sunset” and then do the clap.
We have to announce what we’re clapping for because sometimes people will look around like “Oh it’s a birthday” or “What are we celebrating?” And then you will see the phones come out and the restaurant kind of stands still for about five minutes. People stop eating their food and take pictures. It’s a really fun time. We might have to open earlier in the winter to get the sunset clap in.
What’s the music like at Laser Wolf?
It runs the gamut from fun ’80s hair band type stuff to Israeli pop and hip hop. In the earlier hours, it might be a little more upbeat, folky music. It’s really just fun music whether that’s rock, pop, or hip hop. We work with a company that makes our playlists for us and anytime we have the ability to say nope, this isn’t the vibe for us, and we can kind of exit out. We always want it to be fun and energetic music to set the tone.
What are your favorite dishes on the menu?
On the grill side, the barbecue short rib is the most popular on the meat side. The chicken kind of sells itself, and it’s really amazing chicken; it’s so tender. What we always try to recommend is the lamb and beef koobideh which is one of our signatures; it’s super savory and herbaceous and rich and juicy. And then on the fish side, the trout is really popular.
If you ask our chefs what their favorite dish on the menu is, they’ll say the branzino. It’s a grilled whole branzino stuffed with a tomato ginger compote. You get a crispy skin on the outside and tender flaky meat on the inside. We debone it too, so there’s no work for the guests; you get to dig right in.
Our vegetables are honestly super standout dishes, they’re not just throwaways. On Instagram our cauliflower dish is the No. 1 picture — it’s so, so good. I always tell people, even if you’re not a vegetarian or you’re used to eating grilled meats, don’t sleep on the veggies.
And then, a la carte, the French fries are out of this world. They are the best French fries I’ve ever had. They’re a labor of love for our kitchen; it’s a three-day process. We hand cut them and then we brine them and then we steam them and then we cool them for 24 hours. Once they’re cooled, then we freeze them. And then when a guest orders it, it’s right out of the freezer into the fryer. That’s how you get this amazing crunch on the outside but it’s still pillowy on the inside.
They come with a tehina ketchup which is ketchup, tehina, and we also put amba in it, which is our fermented mango sauce, which kind of brightens it up and gives it some acidity. It’s a familiar flavor of ketchup with just this nice little twist to it that makes it different.
We also have tehina ranch that we serve with the chicken wings, and people who have been in and had the ranch will request a side of tehina ranch for their fries, too. You get a nice little difference of flavors. I love watching guest reactions when they bite into the fries. I know the reaction because we have the same one.
The chicken wings too, are incredible and that’s another labor of love for us. They’re fried and then we sauce them in burnt date molasses and harissa, so it’s a really nice balance of smoky and sweet. After they’re sauced, we actually throw them on the grill again and it caramelizes and gives the texture on the outside.
I definitely want to shout out our prep team — everything is made here and it’s so much time and effort over multiple days to make certain things. We taste the food every single day to make sure it’s as good as it always is and they are consistent on it across the board.
Do you do bookings for larger groups, or do you rent out the space?
For any reservation for nine people and above, we go through our events department, headed by Tessa Voegeli, our director of events. We build a set menu for them. We’re booking a lot of group dinners, and they’re going really well. We also do everything from full and partial buyouts to weddings and corporate events.
What’s your best tip for getting a table at Laser Wolf?
I don’t think there’s a magic answer and I don’t want to tell anybody that there is. I think it’s just persistence and being ready for that email or push notification from Resy that this reservation opened up [when you use Resy’s Notify feature].
And right at 10 a.m., 21 days out, try to do your best. We’ll also do our best when people are leaving and ask to book for a future day. If we have it available, we try to make it happen for them. We’re working on ways to expand and put a bar on the terrace so more people can come up for a drink.
At 5 o’clock right on the dot on a weekday, you have a good chance of walking in, too.
Laser Wolf is open 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.