The half-good: The New French, again, where the service, again, seriously lagged the food. Two friends and I held down a table for more than an hour and a half (not by choice) and got water and wine exactly once. And the place was not slammed, although the sidewalk tables are clearly stressing the front of the house if not the kitchen. Luckily, the special of polenta-crusted softshell crabs with favas was outstanding, with a sauce that had the best kind of flavors: cascading. The two salads (salmon, house) across from me were happily eaten down to the last bite, too. WIGB? Undoubtedly, once I get a craving for a perfect cheeseburger or some inventive fish dish. But it will be at an off-hour for sure.
The lamer than I had even imagined: The Monkey Bar, where a travel writer friend in from Santa Barbara and staying at the hotel gulled me into wasting good money on lunch. If I had checked the menu in advance, I would have refused, because it was chicken, chicken, and more chicken (even in the club sandwich, and even in the special), and I don’t eat that dirty bird. The food costs must be 8 percent, max. I didn’t want beef but suspect the burger was the way to go. Instead I succumbed to the $26 “bacon lobster roll,” which should be cited for menu mislabeling — it had maybe four bits of the former ingredient scattered over the top. Compared with Pearl’s, the filling/bun were cafeteria quality, too. Coleslaw with it tasted decent, although potato chips seemed a definite letdown after Rebecca Charles’s fries. Leslie was quite happy with her Cobb, but I think of that assemblage as being all about the protein — an Everest of julienned lettuce with sprinklings of avocado, egg, blue cheese and, yes, fucking chicken doesn’t do it for me. A $12 glass of riesling was as unchallenging as the cooking. WIGB? Not even with Sy Newhouse.