There is something so achingly civilized about a lady lunching solo with a good book on a sun-dappled patio: Say she’s wearing a maroon felt cloche. Say she’s absorbed in Forster. Say she sips from a flute of champagne after turning this or that page, & from time to time takes a neat forkful of the Waldorf salad before her.

Unless she’s me, of course. I pretty much snarf it all down in a tee-shirt & low-tops while engrossed, indeed, in some freaky read like the one I’m finishing now, Umberto Eco’s On Ugliness—undoubtedly provoking the wrath of fellow diners who lose & keep losing their appetites with each sideways glimpse of its contents:

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Here’s hoping the vision of loveliness that was the chopped salad I recently had for lunch at Black Pearl overshadowed such (awesome!) nastiness.

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By “recently” I mean my smart little neighborhood fave has just resumed midday-meal service after a year-plus of lunchlessness. Where anarchy reigned, order is restored in the form of a fairly short, fairly familiar menu: a good 70% of it, I’d guess, replicates the dinner repertoire. Sandwiches & salads comprise the rest: think grilled cheese with a sunny-side-up egg & garlic-spinach cream; crispy calamari tacos with shishito peppers, crabcakes over greens.

As for the above, not only was it generously sized and properly dressed—by which I mean every bite was slicked with good, strong, creamy garlic vinaigrette; whoever decrees that it’s better to err on the side of underdressing than overdressing should be left in a snowdrift in the altogether for awhile—but it was chock-full of tchotchkes: pulled chicken (dark & light meat); chunks of avocado & Medjool date; radish slices, cherry tomato halves & pieces of asparagus so thin I almost didn’t recognize it & thought maybe it had developed a smack addiction since I saw it last; &, best of all—& worst of all, as my only complaint is that a little more would have gone an even longer way—a few utterly buttery chunks of gorgonzola.

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Granting, however, that not everyone’s as mesmerized by a fine salad as I am, I submit my humble apologies to the guy next to me who ordered the steak.

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For the record, the above paintings are William Hogarth’s The Reward of Cruelty; The Deceased Lovers, Death & Lust by some unnamed 16th c. “Master of the Upper Rhine”; & Chaim Soutine’s Carcass of Beef, respectively.