The pretty good: Excellent Thai in Flushing, where we reconnected with a great eating group and probably had only our leaderless selves to blame for not ordering perfection. The tea leaves salad was as sensational if more heat-unbalanced than the first time we had it, and the steamed fish with lemon and chilies held up once we realized it needed to be apportioned in bowls, with its brodo. I was underwhelmed by the greens with shrimp paste we chose when sweet potato leaves were not available, the flat-tasting pork with fermented bamboo shoots and the spicy chicken, but then each of those was built on a protein pretty far down my ideal shopping list. “Crossing the bridge noodles” was also not my bowl of flavor. But I was pretty blown away by the Yunan yellow fried tofu, the texture of which one of the smart young palates around the Lazy Susan compared to fried marshmallows. WIGB? Maybe. It did come out to $18 a head, and the oranges at the end were so great they were, as Mom of SYP put it, “almost fake-tasting,” and the service is so enthusiastic. But the more we go to Flushing, the more we realize there is so, so much more to try. 36-50 Main Street, 718 886 8972.
The disappointing: Hunan House, also in Flushing, at least with carryout. Our new strategy is to eat anywhere, then pick up a smoked duck for dinner (then go have egg tarts at Tai Pan Bakery). And I don’t think it’s because the one from the cousins’ branch LINK in Manhattan was so good that we were so disappointed. When we opened up the leaking container, the scanty hunks were all weird (were there even three slices from the breast?) and the meat was both dried-out and unsmoky. Oh. Well. As I have long lamented, the impossible dream with restaurants is consistency. WIGB? Not for takeout.
The redeemed: Tangled Vine on the Upper West Side, where friends lured us out for a quick drink that turned into three and where I was happy to concede I was too harsh about our first outing. All three servers showed just the right balance of attentiveness and “oh, sit as long as you like”ness. A sidewalk table and gruner for $6 a nice glass are not to be underestimated, but I woke up next morning clear-headed and thinking more about the succession of little plates we split. Fried chickpeas and housemade potato chips were naturals (and we did make the poor waiter suffer finding out whether the former was made with canned or dried garbanzos; he said fresh and got us going on that possibility). Fava hummus was exceptional, with pecorino chips on top and a hint of mint plus a dusting of Aleppo pepper. And after a second glass, how can you not appreciate nicely done bacalao fritters or arrancini? WIGB? Happy Hour sounds so much better as HH.