The obviously irresistible: Fairway’s upstairs cafe, where we wound up not just yet again but twice in three days, drawn by the ungreedily priced wine and the dependable food. I, of course, had the Caesar salad both times, and it was excellent both times. On encounter No. 1, the waiter suggested my consort and I order my salad and his chicken as the prix fixe, but we didn’t want the dessert and missed out on a helluva deal. One we availed ourselves of next time: I got the salad; he had the outstanding hanger steak, and three of us spooned up the banana thingola, for $26 total. WIGB? Absolutely. Not only is the food good and the wine cheap, but you can hear yourselves talk.
The almost great: The New French in the West Village, where we had not been in months and where we forced our friends in from Chicago to rush to avoid a long wait on Friday night. The bad news is that we arrived first and stewed in high anxiety about holding up a table as they were in E train hell. The good news is that they got there just as our special pizza bianca, with kale, Fontina, apples and Parmesan, was landing. I didn’t taste my consort’s roasted scallops or Paul’s grilled salmon salad (the table was too tight for passing plates), but they looked happy. Leasha said she had achieved the impossible for a change in getting her cheeseburger cooked all the way through, and my medium-rare one was sheer perfection, aside from the fries — the color of John Boehner and way too crunchy (I like a little potato with my carbon, ordinarily). We also shared a special salad of broccoli rabe with boccocini that was stellar, so much so that I regretted not accepting the kitchen’s challenge with my main course. WIGB? Absolutely. Even when the place is slammed, the service is good and the cooking superb. And the enterprising wines start at $9 a glass. 522 Hudson Street near Tenth, 212 807 7357.