As I’ve often complained, the Upper West Side has the terrible reputation for restaurants, but its eastern equivalent is the real wasteland. Once again after PT I found myself adrift at lunchtime between 56th and 96th on the wrong side of the park, gimping from posted menu to posted menu trying to find the elusive combination of interesting and affordable. I wound up at the bar at Payard, having retained some distant memory that it was running an anniversary special, and of course was immediately put very firmly in my place for crashing a private party. Luckily the duck terrine was calling my name and I could be glad I had not settled for the $19.97 deal when the bartender went off on a rant to the regulars on how “they come in for it, but they never come back.” That led to a bitch session about Restaurant Week and how someone at San Domenico has the same complaint about one-time bargain hunters. I suspect I know why the “cheapskates” are never seen twice. Shit on them once and they won’t get fooled again. But it turns out the rich are no different. The old guy next to me started chortling that he had gone to Cafe Boulud “by accident” during Restaurant Week “and they were serving mackerel — can you imagine?” Yeah. It keeps the ignorant away.