New York minutes/Latish December 2008

The pretty good: Fairway Cafe on Broadway yet again, where my consort and I met three young friends in search of an affordable dinner in less than bedlam when we could not get reservations anytime but 6 and 9:30 at three other options. (So much for Panchito and his whining that restaurants are being too aggressively accommodating.) We were supposed to be six, so I can’t complain that the big table was crammed in so tightly the poor busboy almost lost it on his second pass as I was trying to give him room. But the focaccia with herbed olive oil made up for that right away, especially with refills. My hanger steak had great flavor and fries to share with Bob, whose chicken seemed dry to me but made him happy. The big debate came when the check did, with charges for one glass of white and one of red rather than a bottle of each. Everyone else wanted to just overtip; I thought we should tell the waiter, and he did seem relieved. We still got away for less than the price of a salad and a glass anywhere else. WIGB? It’s relatively quiet.

The lame: Atlantic Grill on the Upper East Side, where I stopped for what is becoming a ritual whenever I have a hospital experience nearby and where my penalty was a very slow, very tasteless cheeseburger. The place was packed, which made me think fewer people got scammed by Madoff than we might imagine. The burger was much bigger than the Hansons usually are, and it had mega-cheese on it, but I kept waiting for flavor to kick in. The guy who seated me was nice, though, and the supercilious waiter from last time was not as supercilious. And at least I did not get as annoyed as the guy in the booth behind me, who was losing it because his food, too, took so long. WIGB? For many reasons, I certainly hope not.