The good: Boqueria in SoHo, where we headed with a Philadelphia friend in town for the book expo who expressed a preference for either Caribbean or Mediterranean, anything “light and sunny.” Sort of Spanish sort of fit the bill, although I admit I paused at the blackboard brunch sign out front when I realized how likely eggs were to dominate and how close we were to the Saturday fallback, Aquagrill, with its sidewalk terrace. But it was early, and we got a nice table overlooking the plancha, and the waiter was attentive and the food and wine were excellent even if the music deserved deportation and the bathroom looked worthy of a train, and not in tidy Spain. We just shared a few pricey but excellent tapas: tender octopus on skewers and toast with tomatoes and sugar snap peas in green olive vinaigrette; diver scallops with English peas etc. in bacon vinaigrette; three croquetas — suckling pig, mushroom and salt cod — with sauces, and padron peppers, which were good but not up to Lanzarote level because only one I got had any heat. Rosé and sangria were $9 and $8 a glass; with two each it came out to $38 a person with tax and tip. Not bad, but not the proven deal down the block. WIGB? Maybe. Just not on Egg Day. 17 Spring Street between Thompson and West Broadway, 212 343 4255.
The better than we had any right to hope: Le Petit Marché in Brooklyn Heights, where I met locals and my consort after his workday and with very low expectations, given the neighborhood and the Alouette evocation when I walked in the door on a drizzly gray night. But our food was pretty satisfying, much more so than the sullen-at-best service. I had eaten earlier so only ordered my idea of nibbles — an appetizer of crab-chickpea fritters with chipotle-smoked paprika aioli plus a side of truffle-Parmigiano fries — and was happy with both. My consort made me taste his very chewy but flavorful duck with date gastrique and sweet potato puree, and our friends seemed happy with a special pasta with sausage and summer squash and crab-corn chowder (on this gray evening) plus an off-the-menu pork chop with corn risotto. We split two bottles of red and I think got out for under $100 a couple. WIGB? Absolutely, were I to find myself in that neck of the far woods ever again. 46 Henry Street, 718 858 9605.
P.J. Clarke’s at Lincoln Center, where nine of us landed after the disappointing “Departures” at the little theater around the corner and where we had no reason to complain given the location, location, location coupled with the reasonable prices, decent cooking and showoff service. Our small mob was seated almost instantly at a few tables jammed together in a back corner where we could mostly hear ourselves talk, and the waiter was patient and mellow when some of us just ordered salads or side dishes and others ordered no booze. My Caesar was the same as it ever was, and my consort looked to have more goat cheese than he needed on his spinach salad. Friend to my left was blissful with her sliders if not the bizarre “bubble and squeak” that came with; friend to my right ate the latter with as few complaints as he had for his French onion soup once the kitchen omitted the cheese topping. WIGB? Absolutely. Even if we have to again fight our way through a bizarre horde trying to get into the bar at Center Cut next door. 44 West 63d Street, 212 957 9700.