The good again: Fatty Crab, where my consort and I headed after finding Fry Bar, Perilla and Ostia closed at Saturday brunchtime on a clear-sky holiday weekend when Manhattan felt as if a neutron bomb had hit. I had meant to try Mercadito, given that the restaurant has started a fund to support the delivery guys killed by a drunk right out front, but forgot it in a pain haze in the schlep from Union Square to Dean & Deluca to the Apple store to the far West Village. We evicted some guy waiting for a newish date at the best table on the sidewalk and shared the superb mango salad (with pineapple, cilantro and roasted peanuts), the outstanding Malay fish fry (tilapia in tempura on very spicy crab-curried rice) and the strange wonton mee (fried noodles, silken dumplings). I would have killed for the fatty duck but settled for designer dogs on parade. Apparently no one in that neighborhood owns a mutt. WIGB? In a Kuala Lumpur heartbeat. 643 Hudson Street north of 12th Street, 212 352 3592. (And for coffee afterward, we have a new destination: Ninth Street Espresso, newly opened west of Amy’s in the Chelsea Market. A just-brewed small cupful for $1 had fascinating flavor. Plus you can get a kick watching the barrista fling coffee everywhere while pressing each cup of real espresso.)
The not bad: Picnic, where we met up with a DC friend for very early Saturday breakfast and had to endure only a minimum of wheezing buses and snot-emptying homeless guys at the sidewalk cafe. My cappuccino was excellent even in a mug rather than the proper cup, and the scrambled eggs with frites and wheat toast were unobjectionable. Our visiting friend brought home just how underserved the neighborhood is when she said she had eaten there the day before simply because there was nothing else for 10 blocks in either direction. Maybe another Chase bank or Duane Reade would help. 2665 Broadway near 101st Street, 212 222 8222.
The convenient: Heartland Brewery at the South Street Seaport, where we scarfed down appetizers and wine after not leaving enough time for a real meal before Spiegeltent and the awesome “Absinthe” (Bob’s pithy description of the show: a bawdy Cirque du Soleil). The tents this summer do cut into the illusion that you are eating somewhere close to Sydney harbor, but the service was quick and the music was bearable. We over-ordered and ate too much hummus, baba ganoush, guacamole and pita plus chips. None of it was great, but that was not the point. Getting up close and personal with dervish crotches was. WIGB? Inevitably. Location, location, location.
The excruciating: Tarallucci e Vino dangerously close to the Greenmarket, where I stopped in for fuel for PT, ate half of it and lost the rest along with half my hearing. The place was not even a third full at early lunchtime, but the waitress was nervous in the service and the noise level was at Gonzales level. Then the Russian bimbette next to me got her soup, whipped out her cellphone and started shrieking while the jackass to my right was bellowing into his phone. I just gnawed through part of my lukewarm arugula and scamorza panino, asked to take the rest home and never saw it again. WIGB? Never inside when it is even half-busy.
The innocuous: Bin No. 220, where we made our way after the show, sat on stools outside, split a teeny plate of cheese and a couple of glasses of wine in tumblers and marveled at the transformation of the Seaport. Twenty-five years ago you would not have seen baby carriages being rolled past at 10 o’clock at night, let alone hordes of drunken traders. WIGB? Why not? 220 Front Street, 212 374 9463.
The Albanian: No. 28 on Carmine Street, where we wound up after the devastating “No End in Sight” at Film Forum when the new occupants of Shopsin’s were not receiving visitors and Bar Fry seemed too close to popcorn for comfort (and liquor-license-free to boot). The small pizza with prosciutto and arugula was not awful, or any worse than the pallid insalata mista, but the tab was a surprise: with two glasses of wine each, sitting at a rickety table on the sidewalk, we dropped $33 each with tip. WIGB? Not anytime soon.