The good: Elsewhere in Hell’s Kitchen, where we headed after a great presentation nearby at CUNY on the hometown paper’s digital innovations (news to me because I read the print version). My consort called ahead to be sure we’d get a table in this new age of Theater District restaurants busy after 8, and the hostess was totally engaging as she led us to a nice table in the front. As Bob told the offended waitress, the menu is in dire need of a graphic designer, but at least we were able to navigate the wine list to the cheaper choices on tap (sauvignon blanc for $9 for me was fine). We shared wine-braised kale with tomatoes that was odd but good enough to inspire us to make something sorta similar at home for a dinner party a few nights later. I had a frisee salad dressed with creme fraiche and mixed with chunks of pickled eggs and good bacon plus dried cherries and walnuts; what I kittybagged home was even better next day, after the bitter greens had fully absorbed the light but creamy dressing. And I only tasted the accoutrements in Bob’s grilled octopus salad, but it seemed fine. As were the peppery/buttery biscuits that accompanied it all. WIGB? Absolutely. This is not your grandmother’s Theater District. 403 West 43d Street, 212 315 2121.
The not bad: Brickyard, also in Hell’s Kitchen, where we landed after leaving the extraordinary documentary “Position Among the Stars” at MOMA and desperately searching “gastropub” on Menupages. Where has this place been the last 18 months? It was happy hour, so my Chilean SB was only $5 (after a lame Californian for $9), and Bob was beyond happy with the Ommegang beers on tap. He had a huge, juicy, perfectly cooked pork chop with truffled mashed potatoes and I had a very satisfying house salad with roast turkey (fresh), goat cheese, avocado, bacon, cherry tomatoes etc. The waiter and host performed above and beyond in both jobs. WIGB? Sure. It’s more pub than gastro, but the price, service, location were right. 785 Ninth Avenue near 52d 212 767 4582.
The good again: Coppelia on the West Village/Chelsea border, where we ducked in after the Greenmarket and before cooking for a dinner party, thinking we could get in and out as we had on a holiday weekend. Yikes. The place was slammed. It took a while to get everything, from water to the little (not-so-great this time) breads, but my short rib nachos had flavor/texture/jazziness to spare, and Bob’s chicharrone salad with Romaine, tomatoes, roast pork and fried egg was perfection, dressed just enough with sherry vinaigrette and flecked with blue cheese. WIGB? Definitely, and not least because it’s right on the route back to the C train with overladen bags. 207 West 14th Street near Seventh Avenue, 212 858 5001.