New York minutes/Early May 2009

The not bad: Smith’s in the West Village, where four of us settled in hopes of an affordable meal in a quiet setting and where we got half our wishes. I landed there first and could not have been treated more hospitably while waiting at the bar without ordering wine (next to a couple who had met online and who were exchanging TMI for sure); without being asked, the bartender happily brought me ice water and even an extra candle so I could try to decipher the Time magazine keeping me company. We eventually got a good booth that would have been great if it had not had 14 speakers directly overhead. The waiter also stayed extremely patient even as we dithered in ordering. And my food was pretty good: The grilled squid might have languished a bit too long on the grill, but the pepper relish with it overcompensated, while the ramp risotto with mushrooms and Parmesan was better than average despite the unnecessary Meyer lemon. Both our friends seemed happy with their warm artichoke salad and his chicken-and-grits with shrimp-andouille gumbo if not her skimpy salmon with watercress — it was absurdly small considering my half-portion of risotto was enough to doggie-bag and Bob’s John Dory with shellfish stew and potatoes was a big deal at $23. Elixirs seemed overpriced in comparison to the entrees, too, but then I guess wines are being marked up crazier than fish. WIGB? Hospitality aside, I see no pressing reason why, unfortunately. 79 MacDougal Street above Houston, 212 260 0100.