In short, the bargain of the year. I did the richest, most-in-need-of-a-Fernet-Branca-afterward three-course: the tenderloin fondue, the short rib gnocchi (a full portion!), and the banana bread pudding.
Very gratified to see a full house, got very efficent (if hardly the friendliest) service, and a really nice-priced Sangiovese. Could not have left fuller or happier, and I ate less than half of everything served to me. Brought first-timers with me, who I know were mightily impressed and will be back.
Pre-dinner drinks at No. 9 were the usual height of bartending craft: carefully made with fresh ingredients, served with verve and charm, well worth their double-digit prices. Nice to get a Negroni without having to mention the proper proportions. Shame on any place that charges similar prices for shoddy drinks; they're too numerous to mention in this town.
Okay, I'll take a shot at one: Hamersley's. I find the prices at this most overrated of places insulting anyway, and it starts at the bar, where the slow-arsed staff doesn't know or care enough to chill the glasses for their $12 strained cocktails. Shameful.