520 Columbus Avenue
Scott Campbell has a genius for atmospherics -- both the edible kind that come out of his kitchen and the breathable kind that come from being in the buzzy comfort of Avenue, that rarest of birds, an authentic bistro on the Upper West Side. But he also has the successful entrepreneur's sine qua non, the trendspotting eye. So he developed his own line of organic baby food to feed his patrons' tykes, and a devastating menu of ice creams and sorbets, and he was right there when hot chocolate got serious. Though his kitchen produces occasional misses and the service can be irksome, Campbell cares about food, and at no time is that more apparent than in his powerfully comforting brunch. He smokes his own salmon and stuffs his own sausages, which is why standards such as eggs Benedict and scrambled eggs with salmon don't taste standard at all. The menu may say pancakes, but the mouth knows better; these blackberry-dappled beauties are more kin to crepes than to flapjacks. Tarts and pastries taste like St. Germaine. Okay, it's not the Left Bank, but you'll feel at home here, and after all, Balthazar is such a schlep.
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