New York minutes/Early February 2011

The good: Lyon in the West Village, at least at the bar, where my consort and I took refuge after getting shut out of the documentary program at IFC and where the engaging bartender and $7 sauvignon blanc kept us long enough to order first the spicy duck wings and then the duck rillettes (passing, at least, on the deep-fried cheese balls and salt cod fritters). Those wings looked long enough to power a goose, but they were pretty great, with a sweet-hot glaze on crispy skin, and three cost all of $8. And the rillettes came with warm toast and had been warmed slightly, too, so they melted into the bread; plus a basket of freshly toasted slices arrived just when we needed them. Aside from too-loud music as the afternoon wore on, it was the ideal refuge. WIGB? Absolutely, now that Bob has been dissuaded that the food is too heavy there. 118 Greenwich Avenue at Jane Street, 212 242 5966.

The good, again: Recipe on the Upper West Side, where we scored an early table when I couldn’t face dishes one more night. We shared three small plates: the beet salad with goat cheese; the too-greasy but quite satisfying duck confit hash (the meat mingled with roasted mushrooms and the whole assemblage topped with an oozy egg), and the perfectly cooked scallops with kabocha squash gnocchi, pumpkinseeds, chestnut glaze and crisped sage. The scallops qualified as cerebral food; every bite made me think. As always, the service was superb, too, but I’ll never learn to like wine from a tumbler. 452 Amsterdam Avenue near 82d Street, 212 501 7755.

The not bad: Spice, the new one in the old Monsoon on the Upper West Side, where we ducked in from the rain after the well-made “Fighter” and where the staff could not have been more accommodating. After a huge popcorn and too much lunch, all I could face was the house Caesar, with its miso-ginger dressing and (alleged) Sichuan croutons, but Bob insisted we get the warm duck wrap, too, plus chicken potstickers for him. The shredded duck, for all of $7, came in a fat mound to roll up in iceberg leaves with peanuts and slivered carrots and three sauces, and it was even good the next day, fresh out of the kittybag (Wyl-E was very happy, too). WIGB? Happily. 435 Amsterdam Avenue at 81st Street, 212 362 5861.

And the almost-worth-missing-the-movies-for: The new Meadow salt/chocolate/bitters/flower shop in the West Village. Bob bought me a salt sampler there for my birthday, but I had never set foot in the place, and it is quite seductive, with an entire wall of different salts and another wall stocked with esoteric chocolates. Stacks of salt slabs to cook on are also everywhere. The staff’s really welcoming, too. 523 Hudson Street near Christopher, 888 388 4633.