Salad bar at Applebee’s

The WSJournal had to reach all the way back to August in San Francisco to make its point that the restaurant business is waist deep in the big doody, but anyone who’s paying attention can see the strains closer to home. Relatively near me, Jonathan Waxman was obviously not enough of a flotation device for Madaleine Mae, which is becoming yet another Mexican. And when I got briefly swept up in Restaurant Week frenzy, I was able to reserve everywhere I chose, then when I called to cancel Bar Boulud for a Monday lunch I snared a Friday dinner slot with no trouble. I think it says it all that there are $4,700-plus bottles of wine on the list upstairs but empty slots in the racks in the eerily deserted downstairs. Maybe I was hallucinating, though. We could swear we saw Bernie Madoff outside, and those old people in furs could not really all have been trannies. Could they?