Tried @sqc on the UWS Thursday night, mostly on the basis of a recommendation seen on Chowhound (also read some less-flattering reviews here) and because we wanted something new in mother-in-law's neighb. Pluses: great bread basket, nice glass of savignon blanc, fine crab cakes, perfectly OK service. Negatives: kinda blechy pork dish (with figs?) and awful cod (weird grainy taste). Also: music too loud, wind through the glass walls quite chilly, yuppie puppy couple in a corner practically doing the nasty.... We'll let m-i-l take us back to basic, solid French place she favors next time.
Then Sat night wife wanted salmon for her b'day, so we headed to Christer's after slogging through the interesting but not speedy "Russian Ark." Only one problem: Christer's croaked, probably some time ago. The icy wind whipped around us as we contemplated heading home to Queens and ordering in some excellent Thai. Instead we decided to see if Molyvos perhaps could fit us in--but the crowds were so thick that it was useless even to try. Too cold to head further west (8th/9th Ave) and some nice places, so we decided--it was nearby!--to try Trattoria dell'Arte.
Decent bottle of pinot grigio, OK rolls, perfectly nice but wildly overpriced ($24) plate of spaghetti with lobster in cream sauce, wife's basic pasta tapenade edible, OK beet salad, thin house salad...and a hideous couple (each separately yelling into cell phones!), this time two feet away from us in the tightly spaced line of tables.
Each dinner cost over $70/person. This Chowhound fan needs to plan a heck of a lot better before venturing again into the wilds of "midrange" Manhattan dining on a Saturday night.