New York minutes/Early September 2008

The good: Fairway’s cafe, again, where my consort and I met a new-to-New York couple for an affordable dinner in a quiet setting and had what we always have, satisfying food without gouging, although the service was a bit distracted (new faces). My pizza with prosciutto and arugula was fine, Bob’s game hen with fries was even better, and our friends seemed happy with their shared (misspelled) prix fixe menu of fig appetizer and lamb chop entree if not the creme brulee dessert (not enough crackling crust). The grilled pita on the table came with roasted or sauteed spicy zucchini that was excellent, to the point that I tried to duplicate it a couple of nights later, with only moderate success. That book needed more recipes. WIGB? Can’t beat the prices and the noise level. 2727 Broadway near 74th Street, 212 595 1888.

The unsurprising: Les Halles, where we went once again for a post-Greenmarket meat fix and where we walked out wishing only that we had shared the steak frites. Maybe that free chocolate ice cream was not such a good idea, because neither of us came close to cleaning our $17.50 plates. As it usually is, the meat was butchered right and cooked perfectly, the fries were copious and the salad was just enough. The ladies’ room was a bit neglected, but you can’t everything. Nothing crawled into all the bags we left under the table, and it certainly felt better than risking Primehouse with eggs down the street. WIGB? It is a good buy. 411 Park Avenue South near 28th Street, 212 679 4111.

The adequate: Cornelia Street Cafe, where we retreated after finding Pearl closed for vacation when we really needed uplifting after the thoroughly depressing “Trouble the Water” (how that literal son of a bitch lives with his narcissistic self when so many lives should be on his conscience mystifies me). We got a sidewalk table and the service was beyond attentive and the wine list was good and affordable, so who cared that the too-sweet pomegranate syrup drizzles made the hummus plate less than wonderful? The crab cake was made with that shreddy crab, but it was fried right and came over a nice cabbage salad. Four glasses of wine and two appetizers came to about what we would have spent at Pearl on food, so it was fine, especially given the setting — that street is one of the more magical on this island. But we trudged to the C train still depressed. 29 Cornelia Street near Bleecker Street, 212 989 9319.