541 Amsterdam Avenue, corner of 86th Street
about $40 for two, without drinks, without tip
An institution more than just a trendy brunch place, Barney Greengrass serves the best smoked sturgeon in the city. The fish is perfect with scrambled eggs and onions even at $14 a pop. It’s probably the only place I’d actually enjoy salmon and lox with potatoes and not cringe at the $44 bill for two at the end. (No worries, that includes coffee and orange juice plus toasted bagels and cream cheese.) If you like your caviar, this is the place to order them. They even deliver overnight to your house in the Hamptons, you know, if you actually have a home in the Hamptons.
Matzo ball soup
Cameron’s salmon with eggs and onions
They don’t need your business at Barney Greengrass. They do well with just the upper west side residents lining up outside during the weekends. The service is too hasty but attentive in that New York City kind of way; don’t expect to be buttered up here unless you’re a regular or if your name is Richard Dreyfuss. (I only name him because I’ve seen him eat here during one of my visits.) The maître d’ screams to get your attention when it’s your turn to be seated but the food is too good–and the day is too early–to pay attention to such trivial matters.