Just wanted to thank everyone who responded to my thread -
I ended up making a rez at the Red Cat, but called to cancel because plans changed generally, but I am hoping that I will be seeing a lot more of the Southern belle in the original post, so those suggestions will definitely be getting some mileage.
Here's what we ended up doing last Saturday / Sunday -
Strolled over to the Oktoberfest party at Zum Schneider, 107 Avenue C (Seventh Street), (212) 598-1098. Waited outside for over half an hour - place was packed - one bartender - plates of food passing by looked great! Revelers were in high form - giant steins of excellent Spaten and Oktoberfest brews - the honest-to-goodness oompah band played great sets of German drinking songs interspersed with the oompah favorites of today (personal fave - Mambo No. 5!) A wicked good time had by all.
Then, cabbed over to Corner Bistro - only about a fifteen minute wait in the bar for a table for 5 - rounds of bacon cheeseburgers and fries - delivered to table in under ten minutes, and just outstanding - perfectly cooked - and under $10 each?! Phenomenal.
Slid over to Automatic Slim's for a few more cocktails - perfectly fine bar. Bartender comped another drink because I tipped too much? Didn't think so...unless a $10 jumped out instead of a single...but reasonably certain that was not the case. A good-sized pour of bourbon.
Last but not least, at Bar Jamon, we shared a lovely Spanish red and some tasty olives and bagette rubbed with tomatoes - simple tapas and a great, light note to end the evening. (Had no idea it was part of the Batali-opolis! )
The morning - not surprisingly called for coffee - 71 Irving Place came through with good black coffee (don't need cream or fancy Italian degustations when it's this good), decent zucchini muffins and great looking bowls of oatmeal with enough fresh fruit that the plump blueberries were tumbling off onto the counter and floor. Lovely and reasonable.
While I am fairly certain that all of these places are well-known to you NYC 'hounds, I have to say that the ease with which NYC pulls off good, straight-forward chow puts places like my hometown to the northeast to shame. I had a blast!