Strawberry butter forever

The biggest Epago on the Upper West Side has the funniest “contest” going to commemorate 20 years in a space that previously did in big stars from both California and Cajun country: Submit a favorite memory and get a whack at a gift certificate worth up to $500. (Insert your own W.C. Fields joke on the second prize here.) Most of my recollections involve waiting for the toilets in the grody basement, and I suspect those would be disqualified. I do remember dragging my brother from the Bay Area, his wife and his younger son there one long-ago summer, just because there were tables outside, and I think he has never taken me seriously on food since. If people actually celebrated wedding anniversaries in the joint, this neighborhood was in worse shape than Panchito knew. All that said, though, I heard an interesting story from a friend who just tried to eat at the hottest thing off the avenue (according to everyone but the Mighty Cuozzo) and was actually turned away from his 6:45 confirmed reservation by a maitre d’hostility who said someone had called to change it to 9:45. Where did he wind up? Epago’s upscale sister. I guess that’s why I have so little interest in the really swankola places opening up here. Assholery should require a train ride.