The good: Both Fairway and Pearl. What’s left to say about a great cheap burger and a sublime fried skate sandwich? Well, maybe that you can tell a lot about an establishment by how stable the staffing is (same waiter I’ve had a dozen times at Fairway) and how well a bartender can juggle seating, serving and schmoozing (the regular babbling on the next stool at Pearl never noticed that the attention being paid her was less than total).
The not bad: Sookk, where I wound up with a friend who wanted Thai for Saturday lunch in the neighborhood. I’d been warned, so my expectations were low, but the room was surprisingly pleasant (although it does look like a fabric store), the service was fine and the sound level was reasonable. We both ordered from the lunch menu, so it was also hard to complain about tasteless spring rolls when they came on a platter with surprisingly good imitation duck with spicy noodles for all of $8. Pam seemed happy with both the steamed shrimp dumplings and a combination of five-spice beef in soupy noodles that she usually makes at home. WIGB? Sure. Even though they were running the AC with the front door criminally open. 2686 Broadway near 102d Street, 212 870 0253.