Whenever dining companions play "Spot the Celeb," I'm inevitably the last to recognize whichever bold face name is trying to eat unnoticed at a nearby table. I could blame my star-blindness on nearsightedness, but the truth is, I'm just too immersed in my clam chowder to notice which starlet has used the ladies' room for the third time in 40 minutes. One of my favorite places not to notice famous people is The Spotted Pig, one of New York's top celebrity wallowing spots. I once literally clotheslined a surprisingly squat Willem DaFoe walking into this perpetually packed gastropub. Another time, shortly before the 2004 presidential election, we had just been seated when the hostess rushed over and informed us of a mixup, that a reservation had shown up and we needed to surrender our table (The Spotted Pig doesn't take reservations.) I was about to point out this discrepancy when a friend whispered in my ear: "Alexandra Kerry." "Really! Where?" I asked, apparently in need of an ear trumpet. "In your seat."

Today I thought I had finally ended my losing streak, as I lunched at the Pig with the F&W food department during a belated holiday party team-building exercise. After we finished our plates of butter-soaked gnudi and chicken liver toast, I noticed a familiar face at the adjacent table, its oversized neb buried in the restaurant's famous roquefort-topped hamburger. David Schwimmer. I quickly scribbled his name on the paper placemat, a large arrow pointing out his vector. "We know," the rest of the table hissed. "Where have you been?" I had accepted another demoralizing defeat until our executive food editor, Tina Ujlaki, grabbed my pen and wrote me back: "Friends?"