I didn't make it to opening day of the new Nolita restaurant, JACK'S WIFE FREDA, but I did have a glorious dining experience on its first open Sunday.
I was meeting a friend at the cafe/restaurant, opened by former Keith McNally (Balthazar, Pastis, Schiller's, etc.) employees (couple Dean and Maya Jankelowitz), and was a tad early. As I walked in I was greeted like an old friend, forcing me to question if I actually knew this dapper, energetic man who was welcoming me with (literally) open arms. He offered me the end of a long, communal wooden table or suggested I wait for one of the smaller, double tables to open up. I optioned for the latter, to which he jovially suggested I head over to the bar for a nice coffee. Sure! Why not? After all, they do serve Stumptown coffee! (Disclaimer: I'm not a coffee drinker in any way, shape, or form and I love a Stumptown latte.) I was wooed me into loving JACK'S before my meal had even begun - though maybe that was the work of the exquisitely charming baristas/bartenders. I tried to perch as gracefully as possible on the small stool while balancing my cumbersome Barbour and shopping bags - I had to try and fit in with all the effortlessly chic and beautiful patrons of the new eatery. I was quickly put at ease though when a bartender exclaimed, "You're the first person to ever sit at the bar! On that stool!" I beamed with pride. What an honor. Those blonde women with their slinky Sunday sweaters had nothing on me now.
And then my lovely dining partner joined me. We waited for a cozy round table in the corner to open up and hunkered down. As we caught up and finished our lattes, we took a painfully long time choosing what we wanted to eat (okay, okay, I knew exactly what I wanted because I had been staring at the menu online for a week). She picked the Goat Cheese Baguette, and I had fallen smitten with the idea of the Green Shakshuka. It could have been a bit spicier, but we were both proud members of the Clean Plate Club, so there were really no complaints.
The warm vibes, provided by the low ceilings and peppy staff, left me in a great mood. A feeling I'd like to have seconds of - even if it means just going back for a great coffee and chat at the bar.