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Sep 5, 2007 10:40 AM

Smoked fish---Russ & Daughters/Barney Greengrass

For over 40 years, Mom, who lives in western Nassau, has always bought her break fast fish platters from the same place in Roslyn. Don't get me wrong---fabulous fish, beautiful platters, good service. BUT, their prices, at least for the last few years, have been one step away from gouging. The holiday catering menu just arrived and their prices are easily 1/3 more than either Russ & Daughters or Barney Greengrass, which I have always heard so much about. So I am thinking if a family member can get to either of these places, more likely Russ & Daughters, should we do it? Is the fish great? Is Russ & Daughters still as fabulous as it was when Mom catered in my brother's bris at Beth Isreal Hospital in 1962? And how insane is it to pick up an order on the day before Yom Kippur?

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  1. Yes, R&D is as good as ever (although I wasn't around in 1962!) and yes it is insane around the holidays. That whitefish salad beats all others.

    1 Reply
    1. re: valerie

      Love the whitefish salad there. Never order it anywhere else because I'm inevitably disappointed.

    2. Yes, the fish is fabulous! There is a great selection, and I think they're priced a little better than Barney Greengrass. The pastrami lox is fantastic, and their chopped liver is some of the best I've ever had. It is hectic on regular sunday mornings though, so I can't imagine how it would be around the holidays.

      9 Replies
      1. re: fassforus

        My girlfriend went one time on New Year's day forgetting that 1/3 of the city was going to be joining her and I think the wait was literally over 2 hours. I think, though, if you call in your order ahead of time you can just pick it up. I am sure it will be crazy, but you won't have to pick up a number and wait. I would just call and ask.

        1. re: john

          You, in fact, MUST order ahead for holidays, and will likely still wait.

          1. re: dude

            The place that Mom goes to now literally has a line forming before the store opens promptly at 7 a.m. . There is a wait of some sort regardless of whether or not you pre-order, but the pre-orders do seem to get in and out faster. No problem with advance ordering or waiting for good fish, but I am trying to get a sense of will it be an hour sort of thing, or are we talking 2-3 hours. I may be able to convince my sister to suck it up and wait for an hour, but probably not if it is 2 or 3. Based on what I am reading here, I may need to do a lower Manhattan jaunt after the holidays. Russ & Daughers and Economy Candy. Now there's a thought.

            1. re: Shayna Madel

              Then you can hit Yonah Schimmel's Knishes as well -- just a block away!

        2. re: fassforus

          Just curious....has anyone had the chicken matzah ball soup from R &D ...any good???? Wanted to send some challah from here for the holidays but their not sure if they'll have it on Monday in time to ship but just might put a care pkg together to send anyway. Need close to a $100. min. so suggestions appreciated. Will definately include their pastrami lox ...sounds great! Thanks and Happy New Year.

          1. re: chocolate

            Have never had the R & D soup, but two other options for places that ship are Ben's Best in Rego Park at and Ben's Deli (mid-town, Queens and L.I locations)at I think neither has a minimum near $100, but I can't say what they charge for shipping or how the food arrives. They are not related. I have had the soup at Ben's Deli and though nothing beats homemade, it's pretty good. It nursed Mom back to health after a broken back.

            1. re: Shayna Madel

              Thanks Shayna Madel for the tip on Bens. It looks really good plus they have a Bens down here in FL.( Boca Raton) too. I have family that stay in Boynton Beach in the winter which is close by and I know they'll be interested to hear of another good deli. They're also big soup eaters and since my Aunt does'nt cook much at all while she's here, I know they'll appreciate this.

              Giving the care pkg idea from R & D over the holiday some more thought after reading Bacon Bits post below "their holiday packages are well below their standard fare in taste and quality.'" I know this can be true of other places as well during a busy time of year such as the Jewish Holidays and shipping this might be even more so. Might just wait and send the package sometime after the holidays instead especially since they can't guarantee the challah and mail them some Challah from here (Fl) instead. We have a great place on Miami Beach called Epicure Market. I've been sending their rugelah up North for as long as I can remember. My sister-in-law swears their better then any NYC bakery. So...looks like it might be Challah and rugelah for all the relatives up North wishing them a sweat New Year for now and R & D in a few weeks. Can't stop thinking about that pastrami lox. Might just have to send the pkg around the time I plan to be up there. Thanks everyone.

              1. re: chocolate

                You are quite welcome on the info as to Ben's. Coincidentally and disturbingly, I ran into a neigbor tonight and she mentioned that she heard that Ben's Best (NOT BEN's DELI) on Queens Boulevard had been closed down a few weeks ago due to "uninvited guests" and related issues. I checked the appropriate NYC government website and while I could not confirm closure, let's just say I wish their score were lower. It made me sad.

            2. re: chocolate

              I've had it. They started offering the soup after Second Avenue Deli closed. So many people requested it.

          2. I'll probably get firebombed like hell for this, but having gone to all three numerous times, I'd say for nova/lox you want Zabar's (Ouch! don't throw that at me!). Other smoked fish, Barney Greengrass.. Slightly more exotic lox tastes, Russ. Yes, Zabars is large and serves a high volume, but freshness is guaranteed on the big moving items, and they know how to cut, which is half the battle.

            1. Salmon all varieties (nova, gaspe, wild, scottish, pastrami) I'd go with R&D. Sturgeon I'd go with BG. Zabars is good but not as. I try to avoid them around the Jewish holidays. I was also born in 1962 at Beth Israel. Not being particularly religious I must confess that I celebrate Yom Kippur at the feast of San Gennaro (Ouch! Don't throw that at me!)

              1 Reply
              1. re: guttergourmet

                I agree. Nova, whitefish salad at R & D are the way to go.

              2. I am a regular customer at R&D throughout the year - I bring back brunch for my family in Jersey probably twice a month. As much as we love everything from R&D (including the adorable Josh Tepper, who my sis and I argue over after each of our Sunday morning visits), their holiday packages are well below their standard fare in taste and quality.

                We think it's because it's all pre packaged - or maybe because of the quantity they sell, they take less care in their slicing - I'm not sure what it is. But ordering ahead of time and picking up a box just isn't as good as our regular Sunday morning feast.

                I'm not saying don't bother with R&D for the holidays - but just moderate your expectations - and then go back on a regular day!

                1 Reply
                1. re: BaconBits

                  I am not surprised that you say this about the shipped out stuff, but I cannot wait to get to R & D after the holidays. The logistics will not work out this time, but I really feel like I have to get there after what I have read here. And Josh Tepper wrote me the nicest e-mail in response to an inquiry I made. FYI, he said that they do not do platters for the holidays and all holiday orders must be full pounds. I have another place local to my mother to check out this weekend and will go with that if it meets Mom's approval, otherwise, will go back to the usual good, but expensive place.