And is anyone acting too disappointed with themselves these days at the Waverly Inn & Garden? Not that I could discern. Not beyond the limbo-land bar zone, anyways. On the last evening I visited, the mini dining area buzzed with the kind of self-satisfied, cicadalike energy peculiar to smallish rooms populated by members of the city’s nattering classes. Outside, people milled around in the cold, chattering into their Treos, while exactly six limousines idled along the curb. I have a dim memory of an overly cheesy cheesecake item (made with Vermont goat cheese), an acceptable slice of flourless chocolate cake, and a pre- potted apple crisp, which could have come from the kitchens of Sara Lee. But the best dessert by far is a utilitarian version of bananas Foster made with slices of cold banana, warm caramel sauce, and a crumbling of cookies, all swirled together in a little copper pot. Is it worth fighting your way inside for a little bite? Maybe just once. When the Waverly finally opens for business, the food won’t taste half as good.
The Waverly Inn & Garden
Address: 16 Bank St., at Waverly Pl.; no phone
Hours: Dinner, Tuesday through Saturday 6 p.m. to 12:45 a.m., Sunday and Monday to 11:45 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers, $8 to $15; entrées, $13 to $55.
Ideal Meal: Salmon or tuna tartare, Dover sole or chicken potpie or “Waverly Burger,” bananas Foster.
Note: The tables toward the back of the first room are the ones the Condé Nast editors lust for. If you find yourself in the Conservatory, congratulations, you’re in Siberia.
Scratchpad: You could argue that theatrical value makes this a three-star restaurant. But we won’t. When the dust settles, this will be a solid neighborhood joint.