Archive for May, 2007

Mid-May 2007

May 2007

The adequate: Les Halles, where I took my littlest sister’s daughter and her husband when they wanted French and escargots at a reasonable price, all three increasingly difficult to find here in Beef City. This was my first dinner experience there since the expansion, and I have to say doubling the space has halved the magic; we could have been in an airport bar with a meat case. But it wasn’t crowded or deafening, and the waiter was attentive, and my duck confit was unobjectionable and my guests seemed very happy with their miniature snails and mushrooms on puff pastry, their paleron with bearnaise and pork tenderloin with garlic confit and potatoes. Then again, Zarah said she was recovering from food poisoning acquired at either Virgil’s or Tavern on the Green. This was a big improvement. WIGB? Inevitably. 411 Park Avenue South at 28th Street, 212 679 4111.

The good as usual: Tintol, where I ducked in after an opening of the amazing new shows at ICP and where my reward was an uncrowded bar and the perfect little supper — watercress salad with Cabrales and bacalao fritters (not quite perfectly fried). WIGB? Of course. That place is an oasis in the tourist circle of hell. 155 West 46th Street east of Times Square, 212 354 3838.

The adequate: French Roast, where I found myself starving on the way to Barnes & Noble and where I made the wrong decision on being told the vegetable croque would take 20 minutes. The special sandwich, carelessly grilled vegetables with alleged Fontina, was diner quality, as were the fries. But the waitress was efficient, the price was also diner level ($10.50) and the floor that looked pretty grody in daylight did get mopped while I was eating (I think that’s a good thing). WIGB? It’s too convenient for my own good. 2340 Broadway at 85th Street, 212 799 1533. [Mid-May 2007]

Early May 2007

May 2007

The pretty good: Fatty Crab, where the friendliest, most efficient service ever compensated for fatty duck that was more chewy duck. Even the music was welcoming rather than head-banging. I went for an early lunch, and the one waiter was wrangling half a dozen tables while lavishing attention on all of us. The bok choy was also the best ever, and both the duck and the rice under it were seasoned and garnished perfectly. Only the meat was a problem. Ever since the first chef moved on, the best thing on the menu has become a challenge rather than an indulgence, and I can’t tell what has gone awry. I just know the fat and flesh resist rather than melt when you take a bite. WIGB? Yep. When it’s on, it’s on. 643 Hudson Street near 12th Street, 212 352 3590.

The not bad: Republic, where I finally succumbed in a weak moment after resisting for as long as it has been there and I have been going to the Greenmarket. I wanted something quick, there was a table outside, the waiter had water and a menu to me before I could reconsider, and I wound up wondering why I had resisted for so long. The curried duck noodles were better than dispiriting (as that kind of combination so often is), the wine was not shiver-inducing, and the waiter was almost scarily efficient (no notebook, three tables’ orders taken at once, all delivered with no problem). When I schlepped inside to the bathroom, one floor and 14 miles away, I remembered what had kept me at bay. I hate communal tables. WIGB? Eventually. 37 Union Square West near 17th Street, 212 627 7172.

The trying: Charm Thai, where I felt compelled to try a lunch because it is new and close but where I walked out $14 lighter feeling cheated, and that was with the tip. The duck salad came with a plethora of unannounced raw mushrooms, which I never eat since a morel dealer in Oregon told me 15 years ago that they can hatch spores in your gut, while the steamed dumplings were more like little diapers full of spinach and oddly funky taro. I couldn’t figure out how to eat them with fork or fingers, and no chopsticks were on offer, so I tried and failed. The place looks nice, and the waitress was pleasant (although an old guy across the room was losing it). WIGB? Probably. It’s too close for comfort. 722 Amsterdam Avenue near 95th Street, 212 866 9800. [Early May 2007]