New York minutes/Latish July 2008

The pretty good: Mermaid Inn uptown, where my consort and I headed for neutral territory after a week apart and where we had a decent meal despite being seated in the old folks’ room in the back and being served by one of those waitresses who think the brim is the proper level to fill a wineglass. My gazpacho with peekytoe crab was heavy on olive oil and light on seasoning until Bob dumped in the leftover cocktail sauce from his shrimp appetizer, but my calamari salad with feta and mushrooms was surprisingly satisfying, not to mention copious; his skate with succotash and bacon was similarly so generous a portion he took home enough for lunch next day. The gone-too-fast bottle of rose priced like two glasses was also a deal. 568 Amsterdam near 88th Street, 212 799 7400.

The not awful: Citron, where we stopped in desperation for a snack after “Wall-E” and after remembering the options only look bleaker the farther north you go on Columbus. We got a booth to ourselves, which turned out to be a mixed blessing on a torrid night; no breeze from the open door and windows could get past the high backs. The house salad was rather tasteless despite the blue cheese gravel among the beets, walnuts and bits of haricots vert. Bob’s frisee salad with lardons was more meat than greens, and the poached egg on top was too cooked to ooze. But the waitress was charming, the wine pour was reasonable and the bread was warm. I guess it was worth nearly half a full meal at Mermaid. 473 Columbus Avenue near 83d Street, 212 400 9401.