The adequate: Les Halles, where I took my littlest sister’s daughter and her husband when they wanted French and escargots at a reasonable price, all three increasingly difficult to find here in Beef City. This was my first dinner experience there since the expansion, and I have to say doubling the space has halved the magic; we could have been in an airport bar with a meat case. But it wasn’t crowded or deafening, and the waiter was attentive, and my duck confit was unobjectionable and my guests seemed very happy with their miniature snails and mushrooms on puff pastry, their paleron with bearnaise and pork tenderloin with garlic confit and potatoes. Then again, Zarah said she was recovering from food poisoning acquired at either Virgil’s or Tavern on the Green. This was a big improvement. WIGB? Inevitably. 411 Park Avenue South at 28th Street, 212 679 4111.
The good as usual: Tintol, where I ducked in after an opening of the amazing new shows at ICP and where my reward was an uncrowded bar and the perfect little supper — watercress salad with Cabrales and bacalao fritters (not quite perfectly fried). WIGB? Of course. That place is an oasis in the tourist circle of hell. 155 West 46th Street east of Times Square, 212 354 3838.
The adequate: French Roast, where I found myself starving on the way to Barnes & Noble and where I made the wrong decision on being told the vegetable croque would take 20 minutes. The special sandwich, carelessly grilled vegetables with alleged Fontina, was diner quality, as were the fries. But the waitress was efficient, the price was also diner level ($10.50) and the floor that looked pretty grody in daylight did get mopped while I was eating (I think that’s a good thing). WIGB? It’s too convenient for my own good. 2340 Broadway at 85th Street, 212 799 1533. [Mid-May 2007]