Russ & Daughters Suffering?
Has anyone else experienced Russ & Daughters' quaility suffering of late? One week ago, I stopped in at 6:45, a quarter hour before closing, and ordered a half pound of Gaspe Nova, a chub, cream cheese, bialys, tomato and onion ($30). Simple, straightforward.
Everything was fine except the star of the show, the Gaspe. It was dry at the edges, and tough to the point where our teeth wouldn't cut it. The server had informed me that he was beginning a new piece of salmon. I thought nothing of it and was confident I'd be served the usual high quality of fish, and wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. I'm aware I was the last customer in the store, and the cases were being wrapped and everyone was eager to close, but that ought not to have compromised the quality of the food I've come to enjoy over the past 25 years at R&D.
Was this just an off night? Did I get an inexperienced new hand (he won't be cutting my fish again)? Are the new plastic dividers the fish is being placed on (rather than the old wax paper) to blame? Or, more worryingly, has anyone else noticed a deterioration in quality? I live outside Manhattan and wasn't about to schlep back in to complain. I did complain by e-mail a week ago and never heard back from the store.
It's been my experience that when a new piece is started, those slices can tend to be drier than the more juicy mid-section. However, they should not be tough and have dried out edges. I think the problem rests with the person who waited on you. He was either inexperienced or, because they were almost ready to close, he was rushing and didn't properly prepare the new salmon before beginning to slice it. From what I've seen when a new side is started, there's quite a bit of waste, especially from the sides, that must be cut away before slicing. And then, the cutter must be skilled in cutting the slices to be sure you are getting just the "meat" of the fish and no skin.
If this had happened to me, I would have called the store the next day and spoken with one of the owners immediately about the problem. However, since it's now been a week since it happened, the next best thing is to speak to one of the owners the next time you are in the store.
wow, i hope it was just an off night...i've bought gaspe (plus whitefish salad, baked kippered salmon, scottish salmon, cheeses, dried fruit and nuts) from them at least 5 times since Xmas, and the quality was superb everytime...so let's hope your experience was an abberation, because R&D's is one of favorite places in the world...
While it's unfortunate they didn't email back, you might want to write an actual paper letter to them, addressed to the owner (who knows if the email was deleted by someone else etc)...or you could chat w/ the owner the next time you go in, explain your long patronage of the place, and i'd bet they'd appreciate the constructive criticism...
Sorry too about your experience. A suggestion, if feasible, ask for a taste (smoked salmon, sturgeon, chopped liver). This doesn't work for a chub or herring of course. I recently touted R&D to a friend and she had an order delivered. All was great but the sturgeon (I think that's what is was). She called the next day and they made note of a store credit (she lives in NJ but works in NY). If she had gone in person, she could have tasted first. Keep trying. I think it was an aberration. I hope.