Daily Pampering: The quintessential Upper West Side brunch

I try to get to Compass by 11:30, when the restaurant opens. Brunch on the Upper West Side can get crowded quickly, and I enjoy that brief moment when the meal is its most peaceful. This Manhattan neighborhood is popular among brunchers and offers no shortage of choices. Yet, the most interesting by far can be found at Compass, on W. 70th Street, just west of Amsterdam Avenue. Be sure to make a reservation, because you won’t be the only person in the neighborhood to have this idea.

The brunch menu is not expensive: you’ll enjoy an incredible meal for $28. So, why feature it in the Daily Pampering column, which is committed to the decadent? Well, you don’t have to spend a fortune to live the life luxurious, and any local or visitor to Manhattan would be nuts not to sit for a meal here.

The Compass brunch menu is short on choice but not on variety. The first course to be presented to you includes salmon, bread, pastry and sausage. Bite-sized portions of all are presented for the table, obviating the need for difficult decisions. The flavors are incredibly well balanced, and the presentation is meticulous. Dessert is served the same way – small portions of everything. You won’t need to worry about leaving the table with the concern that you missed something delightful.You do have to select an entrée, and it’s a painful experience. You may be able to narrow it down to three or so that turn you on, but finding your way to one is brutal. If you live in the city, you can just go back a few times. I don’t envy tourists, however who don’t have easy access to this restaurant. On my most recent visit (last weekend), I ate the Lobster BLT, the first time I’ve tried it, and I’m glad I did. There are no good choices on the menu – they’re all beyond that.

The service at Compass is flawless. The staff is quiet, efficient and attentive. Dishes are brought at ideal temperatures, and water and coffee flow before you need to ask. I’d suggest a waiter, but that’s unnecessary – they are all fantastic.

You need a dose of pampering? Head out to Compass for a meal. This is among the most enjoyable culinary experiences in Manhattan, the price is downright shocking. Compass has a full menu for dinner, as well, which is not to be missed.

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