And it still is less than a Quarter-Pounder

The best part of making time for the lunch on a day when I did not have the time to make was having my faith restored in really high-end cooking. Just a few days before I had wasted the better part of a morning trying to find a suitable mid-range destination for friends in from Portland, O., and rejecting old favorites and new possibilities alike for the usual reasons of eardrum-shattering noise levels, impossibility of reservations, cramped conditions, predictable flavor combinations and, most offensive, ridiculous prices. (Finding a doctor who takes my crappy insurance would have been quicker and easier.) My days of reveling in $30-plus entrees I could make at home are definitely over. And they will be for the next year at least, but I realize there is pricey and there is thoughtful. I’m not sure I would be able to tolerate the futziness of a real meal at the made-over grand temple of New York cuisine, let alone the crowd that can unthinkingly spring for it, but I realize afresh why those who can, do. The funny thing is that I used to ponder writing a piece about the 20 pounds that crept up on me before I had my eating habits changed the hard way: It would have been called “I didn’t get fat eating at the high end.” With brilliant food, I can just taste and stop. Mediocrity makes me keep forking through it, hoping for satisfaction. Today that would not be true. To get the full effect of a typical entree arrayed in three stops over a wide plate, you have to clean your plate.