New York minutes/Mid-July 2008

The good: The New French, where I met the Not-So-Tyro-Anymore for a perfectly pleasant lunch at that great little table in the window and where I was mostly relieved that I had not oversold the tuna sandwich (confit makes it as much as the proper proportion of bread). I had the special BLT pizza bianca, which tasted great but was tough to eat either by hand or with knife and fork; the judiciously applied creamy dressing on the greens over the tomato slice and under the bacon bits was outstanding, though. And we each had a glass of the Spanish rose. Like old pros. WIGB? It’s become beyond a habit, and lunch, even when the place is busy, is so mellow. 522 Hudson Street near 10th, 212 807 7357.

The hellish: Barceo 95, where I met a friend for location’s sake on a sweltering night when all the doors were open to the street and where we somehow managed to survive a few hours wedged into a tight table directly under a blaring speaker with the most inattentive service since Helen Keller last waited tables. We should have stayed at the uncrowded bar for our two rounds and a shared order of roasted peppers stuffed with cheese. As it was, the busboy got the bread, napkins, silverware and oil to us right away and kept our water glasses full no matter how tricky it was to navigate through too many chairs crammed into too small a room. The waiter was either overwhelmed or out of it; we might have ordered more if he had seemed half-engaged. I was fine with the $11 verdejo (quartino), but Valerie thought her $13 monastrell — listed as “full,” with extensive tasting notes — was on the wan side. Luckily, the place had emptied out enough that she was able to send back her second choice because the glass reeked of bleach. Unluckily, around 11 someone started to use that same cleaner to swab up around the bar. Not the best effect in a place where aroma is part of the pleasure. The only saving grace was that the human larva at the next table when we were first seated did not throw the shit fit you always anticipate from those ticking time babies. WIGB? Not likely.