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Russ & Daughters - Disappointment

I ate two sandwichs over the holiday weekend and was so disappointed. I asked for a lox recommendation of a less salty salmon for a bagel cream cheese and lox sandwich with tomato and onion., everything bagel. The story falls short here because dispite three attempts in asking the name of the nova he suggested; I couldn't understand.

However, whatever it was the salmon was just ok. A little different which was fun but nothing to rave about. The real problem was the rest of the sandwich. The bagels are so chewy and firm that nothing other then a slice of meat, would shoot out the back upon first bite. It can't be eaten as a sandwich, which to me is huge. The constant mess of restuffing the onion and cream cheese from the back of the bagel and back of your hand. The tomato was aweful for anytime of the year. The onion was random chunks with filmy skin.

The second sandwich was chopped liver on sesame. Image that explosion.

I know a knife and fork would solve most of this, but I and maybe the other folks huddled over the benches outside like the eat a sandwich like a sandwich.

Perhaps I miss the fun?

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Russ & Daughters
179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

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  1. was this your first time at R&D?

    you do not go there for the chopped liver...sorry —
    and chopped liver on a bagel...NO...try the chopped herring...
    to me that is like going to Katz's for a tuna sandwich

    1. I'm sorry you had a sub-par experience. I never get the bagels there (I'm a Kossar's devotee, and a bialy girl, anyway), so I'm in no position to defend them. But I bet towards the end of the day - or over a holiday weekend - the bagels will tend to fight you, because they're not so fresh. I think Russ & Daughters' salmon, herring, and cream cheese are without peer, though. What salmon has impressed you in the past?

      4 Replies
      1. re: small h

        I am responding to the person that mentioned she is a Kossar's devotee. I guess you never ate at Kossar's years ago. The bialy's now are tasteless in my opinion. Years ago, you could walk by the store and smell that wonderful scent of baking - not anymore. They never seem to be fresh at a time or day you go by. Russ & Daughters also is not the way it used to be,

        1. re: mstropicana

          I'm fortunate enough to live 7 minutes from Kossars, by foot. So I can tell you with certainty that there are most definitely times when you can walk by and smell the bialys baking. Here's hoping you luck out on your next trip - I know how frustrating it is to miss something you remember so fondly. And if you can point me to a better bialy in Manhattan, I'm all ears.

          Also? Nothing is the way it used to be. I sure as hell am not.

          1. re: mstropicana

            My family was in town last weekend for The New Yorker Festival, so I made a trip to Russ & Daughters and Kossar's to stock the house for their stay. Everything was amazing, especially the wonderful goodies from Russ & Daughters: salmon, herring, chubs, cheeses. The only reason that it's "not the way it used to be" is because we all change, and our minds play tricks on us; Russ & Daughters is as great as ever.

            1. re: mstropicana

              I can tell you for certain, they have been baking fresh on Saturday nights, after sundown.

              The Bialey's taste slightly different, and a little more dulled with an English muffin consistency in some bites, but not enough to detour anyone. It's still Kossar's. Anything with onion, and salt is tasty.

          2. While I happen to like R&D bagels, they do get a bit chewy toward the end of the day. Generally, I purchase the salmon of my choice, cream cheese, etc separately and fix it all myself and have yet to be disappointed.
            If you do want them to make the sandwich, you can specify which salmon you'd like and they are pretty accomodating... they'll even cut it in 4 pieces if you ask.

            And chopped liver on a bagel? Really? I wouldn't... better to have that on rye or crackers. It is messy, and R&D excels in other areas as pbjluver stated. Herring, whitefish, their cream cheese is delicious.

            1. Just a technical suggestion - I find it much easier to eat a bagel and lox sandwich open faced. I also put the onions under the salmon to help it stay secure while eating.

              35 Replies
              1. re: michele cindy

                Michele - glad to see your still around. How are you?

                I understand about the open face which is the way to go but its served like a sandwich and I think should be eaten like a sandwich. The whole experience was certainly not up to the hype reported by most on this board. I always assume I'VE missed something, but I know I could go to my quasi Jewish Deli in the heart of south jersey and have a better lox and begal sandwich. All that about late in the day and hard to eat bagels in just silly.

                  1. re: shoeman

                    i don't know about the quasi-Jewish S.Jersey place you speak of, nor do i doubt that you got the bagel and tomato part on an off day...but the fish quality at Russ&D is best i've had anywhere (including Vancouver, Norway, and other havens of topnotch fish smoking)...i think it's so good that i prefer to eat it by itself, without any bread to detract from the salmon...

                    there are also happy to give you tastes of their various salmons so you can choose the one that best suits your palate...

                    1. re: Simon

                      I can't contest the quality of R&D and have happily been coming to the store since the 1970's--but I do think that some of the counter folks will take the easy way out and not cut the salmon with the care it deserves...And I don't think a customer should need to remind the counter person that salmon should be sliced thin, etc...

                    2. re: shoeman

                      <All that about late in the day and hard to eat bagels in just silly.>

                      And yet that's just what happened to you. So it may be "silly," but it's true.

                      1. re: small h

                        Yes... even the best bread goes stale :)

                      2. re: shoeman

                        ya that place is just good for DIY components, and not to be eaten out-of-hand like that. with you michele, on the open face; only way to do this sorta food.

                        1. re: bigjeff

                          Hence my disappointment....everyone raves about picking up a lox sandwich and eating it on the benches outside. Aweful experience.

                          1. re: shoeman

                            .....who eats lox
                            on a bench??
                            ....on houston street
                            ON LABOR DAY??

                            oy................

                            1. re: 12jenny

                              With all due respect 12jenny-I do!!!! Its one of my favorite routines in the world. I buy a little of this and a little of that then take my treasures out to the bench on Houston and pig out!!! My faves on a bagel are the lox, herring and yes-chopped liver!! I know people walking by all stare cause they are so jealous of my mini picnic.

                              1. re: UES Mayor

                                I sit on those benches to eat their bagel & lox too, the only option as I don't live in the city anymore. I like sitting in front of American Apparel stuffing my face, frankly. But I've never been to R&D past about 10:30am, so I can't vouch for what happens in the afternoons.

                                1. re: hollerhither

                                  There is another option. You can sit in the little park on 1st & 1st. Going east, there's a playground with benches on the corner of Houston & Norfolk.

                                  Afternoons are fairly quiet at R&D. We were there yesterday at 4 p.m. and were waited on immediately.

                              2. re: 12jenny

                                Eating a lox sandwich while benching? Oy!

                              3. re: shoeman

                                I would say that is not the native way to do it. Lox sandwiches are a waste to me. To truly appreciate Jewish appetizing at a place like Russ and Daughters, you need to buy the components separately. Buy some Lox, some Sable, maybe some Nova or sturgeon and chopped Herring. Buy bagels somewhere else and go home and construct an Open faced sandwich.

                                The thing about good smoked fish is you want it sliced thin and you want it open faced. The two sides of the bagel block the sensory experience of the fish on your tongue, you get too much bagel. Plus the amount of fish is too much, it sort of congeals in your mouth and you dont get the texture of individual slices. Plus doing it this way enables you to eat two different types of fish on each bagel half. Get some good quality butter, smear away and put Sable on the bottom half and Belly Lox on the top. Doesn't get better than that.

                                1. re: MVNYC

                                  MVNYC,

                                  Amen.

                                  When my father-in-law, may his memory be as a blessing, would stay with us while my mother-in-law went out of town to visit the mishpocha, we would have R&D Fed Ex us matjes herring, nova, sable, and pickles to Northern California, to go with the Fed Ex'd bagels from H&H and you never saw such a happy alter kocker in all your life.

                                  Chicken liver you get that day from your Aunt Ruth. Accept no substitutes.

                                  I have never in all my days had a bagel that was close-faced. Sounds like the goyische kop version of a bagel to me.

                                  But what do I know?

                                  1. re: snarkygirl

                                    I'm not a goy, and I've enjoyed both open and close-faced bagels. From a textural and flavor point of view, lox can work in a variety of combinations.
                                    P.

                                  2. re: MVNYC

                                    Thank you for nailing that debate perfectly. It does need openface for it to work. Textural components are magnified dramatically; BTW the cream cheese at R&D is Ben's cream cheese, local product that has nothing in it but cream and a little salt and clabberer, no thickeners, no drek, nothing. My way is bagel bottom only sesame or plain, cream cheese, a little too much, tomato, one thick perfect slice, salmon belly first choice but many worthy choices generally cured not smoked, topped with thick slice of vidalia onion, wonderful. Had a R&D order that was shipped to Martha's Vineyard about a month ago, No faults, was great, great mislinis on side as well.

                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                      Delucacheesemonger... I agree! Open faced bagel with a schmear and a single layer of smoked salmon. Mmmmm....

                                      And thanks for the heads up about the cream cheese... One can also procure it at Balducci's in Scarsdale, though the salmon there isn't *quite* the same :)

                                    2. re: MVNYC

                                      MVNYC, why limit yourself to two different types of fish? when faced with a good bagel, not only do i go halves, i even go halves on the halves! so i can have 4 different experiences, a mix of garnishes, etc.

                                      1. re: bigjeff

                                        I am not going to lie, I can get to four kinds of fish on four bagel halves.

                                      2. re: MVNYC

                                        @ MVNYC (or anyone else who might have an opinion on the matter): So, if I were to get the salmon/sable and cream cheese at Russ & Daughters to construct my own back at my place, where, ideally, should I get the bagels? Also, does R&D sell the onion (i.e. can I ask them to shave me a few slices to take home with my salmon)?

                                        1. re: ulterior epicure

                                          Sure you could get them in Montreal at St Viateur, but the bagels at R&D are fine, way better than fine. You need good hot coffee and lots of it, thus home is the place.

                                          1. re: ulterior epicure

                                            The bagels at R&D are good and would be convenient as you are already down there. The. key to any bagel is to get it as fresh as possible, bagel quality deteriorates very quickly. If you can get to a place that bakes their bagels on premise they ideal thing is to get whatever bagel is fresh out of the oven. By the time you get home, it should have cooled off.

                                            As to the onion, I suppose they would sell you some shaved onion slices but you could just as easily and more afford ably buy a red onion and shave it thin for your spread. Personally I don't add the onion or tomato as they seem to just get distract from the sublime fishy goodness. Then again I also seem to think the same thing about cream cheese so I understand I am a bit weird. However those I usually eat with do like these things so I make them available. To all those cream cheese devotees I would recommend trying their next sandwich with butter instead. It is really good.

                                            More to the point, Jewish appetizing is really the type of thing you buy at the store and then assemble yourself at home. It comes out much better that way and you can really do it how you would prefer. I tend to think of Russ and Daughters more as a store and less as a deli/restaurant. You go in, buy your ingredients and fix em at home.

                                            1. re: MVNYC

                                              Very wise advice, MVNYC. Re: preserving bagels, my mother has always said to never store bagels in plastic bags. Paper is OK for a couple of hours or half a day. After that, you have to eat 'em or freeze 'em. I think Mom is right. I once had a bag of H&H bagels literally deteriorate in an afternoon, I believe from being stored in a plastic bag. Of course, it was also hot outside, so that was a factor too.

                                              And I completely agree with you about assembling lox & bagels, etc. and related food at home. To me Russ & Daughters is absolutely a store and not a restaurant.

                                              Can't say I'd eat a lox sandwich with butter instead of cream cheese though. To me, the key is the right balance between the cream cheese and lox. I like Temp-tee whipped cream cheese or a thin layer of Philadelphia or something similar.

                                              1. re: Gigi007

                                                Prefer butter w/lox. Lox deserves the stage (essentially) to itself. Less is more regarding other ingredients if the lox or nova is right.

                                                1. re: addictedtolunch

                                                  Right, the Lox deserves the stage. To those who find Lox with butter revolting, I ask how different is cream cheese from lox in terms of how they are made? Basically both are churned cream only the cream cheese requires fillers to maintain its consistency. Secondly if you were cooking a fish, which goes better cream cheese or butter. Butter and fish have a natural affinity towards one another.

                                                  The cream cheese overwhelms the lox to me, sweet butter compliments it. Then when it comes to sable? The cream cheese completely destroys the delicate smoky fish flavour.

                                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                                    I make a fresh salmon wrapped in phyllo with a scallion and cream cheese filling that is really tasty. For me, it's inbread salmon/cream cheese, even when broiling I don't use butter on salmon, I use olive oil, soy sauce anything but butter.

                                                    1. re: MVNYC

                                                      @ MVNYC: Good logic. I guess I need the slight tang from the cream cheese to check the fat in the salmon? Butter is just too cloying to me.

                                                      I agree that butter - melted, cooked, browned - and fish is a wonderful combination. But in semi-solid form, I just can't abide the coupling.

                                                      But, to each his own. It's what makes this world go around (or, at least, interesting).

                                                2. re: MVNYC

                                                  Right, right - I never thought of R&D as anything but a marketplace.

                                                  I do like the taste of cream cheese and onions with my salmon and carbs. Personally, the combination of butter with cold cuts (whether fish or meat) is absolutely repulsive; since childhood, it has repeatedly invoked the gag response. But, I realize I many be strange in this respect.

                                                  1. re: ulterior epicure

                                                    I don't think you're strange, u.e. I have the same thoughts about butter w/ fish or meat on a sandwich. It doesn't appeal to me at all.

                                                    1. re: ulterior epicure

                                                      u.e.,

                                                      I'm with you about butter with cold cuts. Feh! With smoked salmon, it's always cream cheese (my preferred bread product on which to place them is pumpernickle). I always plate smoked white fish, sable, and kippered salmon rather than putting them into a sandwich, but I do put butter on the accompanying bagel, bialy, or pumpernickle bread.

                                                      And, btw, with reference to R&D, "small shop" is a better description rather than "marketplace," which, to me, connotes a place that's fairly large.

                                                      1. re: RGR

                                                        I prefer scallion cream cheese with salmon over onions. It's more subtle. As for butter, I agree feh! (reminds me of a story... many years ago I once had a 20.00 bet that "feh" was a real word...then that , same night coincedentally on MASH Hawkeye uttered the word "feh"! And I won the bet.

                                                        1. re: RGR

                                                          @ RGR, when I was a wee tot, my ma buttered my ham sandwiches, and it made my stomach churn. When in France, I always have to make sure I ask for my baguettes unbuttered. Once, I ordered a simple Brie baguette, and it came generously buttered; it was repulsive to me.

                                                          1. re: ulterior epicure

                                                            my favorite bagel sandwich is a poppy seed bagel, cream cheese, and baken salmon and lox on one side and baked salmon and sturgeon on the other, eaten open faced of course. looking forward to it for break the fast.

                                        2. Please correct me if I am wrong. R&D does not make their own bagels. I do have reason to belive they are made by Kossars on Grand. Then tend to be a bit chewy for my taste. BUT: all of the smoked/pickled fish and cream cheese spreads are outstanding. I have gotten "sammiches" on their bagels and have struggled with it. My suggestion: buy the fixin's for the bagel sammich at R&D and the bagel at Essa Bagel or any of the other great bagel bakeries noted on this site.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Motosport

                                            Uh, no, the bagels at the Russes are not from Kossars. I recently asked and was told that the bagels are specially made for them in Brooklyn. However, the bialys are from Kossar's.

                                            1. re: RGR

                                              AH! That explains why I saw big brown paper bags at Kossars with R&D written on them. I assumed, and you know what they say about that.
                                              BTW: I love Kossars Bialys.

                                          2. I love the bagels at R&D -- as well as some other places, including E.A.T., Gourmet Garage -- though you definitely need your own teeth to bite them ;)...the best way to ruin a great smoked salmon sandwich (which I also prefer open-faced) is on an ess-a-bagel or similar bready, inflated bagel. Way too much bread to smoked fish ratio. R&D's are the real thing and as close as I can imagine to the chewy Russian-style bagels my Ukrainian grandfather used to bring me from the Bronx.

                                            1. Just wanted to add a note. Russ & Daughters will do an open faced sandwich for you. You can also use this as an option to get different kinds of fish. This weekend I got a poppy seed with half sable and half belly lox. They wrapped it up well and it kept fine til I got to the best place to eat it, DBA on First ave and 2nd Street. DBA is a good beer and spirits bar a couple of blocks away that allows you to bring in food. Both fish paired up very well with a Jever Pils. As the weather gets colder this is a good spot to grab an afternoon lunch and quality brew.

                                              Also the quality of bagel there was actually very good. It was the old school chewy style of NYC bagel so the original poster may just be unaccostomed to this. If you are expecting the airy type of bagel you will be dissapointed.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: MVNYC

                                                FYI, dba serves free bagels & lox on Sundays (or at least they did the last time I was in there on a Sunday). It's not not R&D caliber, but still, free!

                                              2. I am a former resident of the tri-state area living now near Gainesville, FL. Just reading this thread made me crazy for smoked fish and proper bagels. I am a fool for Jewish appetizing. I really live in goyland. I have to buy packaged Nova and Philadephia chive cream cheese. I just had a bowl of hamishe matzoh ball soup with fresh chopped parsley, and freshly ground sea salt and pepper. Ahhh! But, how I wish we had a good deli. Some say, go to Bagelicious in Ocala, but they close at 2:30 pm Monday-Saturday and they are closed on Sundays. I am so enjoying the stories of R & D and Kossar's. My favorite childhood memory involves The Stage Deli, though. It was the morning of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and I ordered a gorgeous sesame seed bagel with whitefish. I was twelve, and the breakfast sandwich was as big as my head. The fish was so thick and luscious. The cream cheese was creamy and not processed. The sesame taste shined through. I asked the waiter if they could hold the second half for me until after the parade. He certainly kept it nice and fresh. It also made a delicious lunch. My father has told this story so many times. I'm 53 now, and my love for The Stage Deli continues. Is it still good there?

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: Sumodo

                                                  Oy Vey! Stop with the dreaming and go to the RD website: they ship! Spend a few shekels and
                                                  taste the truth once again...

                                                  (I feel your pain--I lived for several years in the Pacific Northwest, and was similarly adrift...)

                                                    1. re: yvonne129

                                                      The Stage and Carnegie: well past their prime and seriously mediocre.

                                                      1. re: RGR

                                                        RGR when were you last at Carnegie? I went not long ago (with some out of towners who wanted to go) and our sandwiches were quite good. Granted the pastrami is not Katz's....but good. As was the tongue, chopped liver...

                                                        I think it's outrageously expensive and I see no reason to go there when I have other options in the city that I prefer, but it's not "seriously mediore."

                                                        The Stage....I agree with you 100%.

                                                        1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                          Last time at Carnegie? Mid-'90's. The pastrami was blech!

                                                          1. re: RGR

                                                            I'm not sure you can say a place is "seriously mediocre" if you haven't been there in 15 years. The pastrami isn't as good as Katz's, but it's not "blech" or at least wasn't when I was there not long ago.

                                                  1. All bagels are "good and ... convenient" ... until Hot Bagels in Bklyn (CIA between T&U), seriously.

                                                    R&D's fish needs no defense.

                                                    I halve, light toast, thin smear, vidalia, tomato (when in-season), single layer ...at times I sneak in some capers ... always at home, always open-faced.

                                                    1. I usually go to R&D and am very happy with their appetizing. However I find the place uneven with their gaspe smoked salmon at times. I went this Saturday and got a half pound of the gaspe which I threw in the garbage. They must have just started a new lox and the fish was tough and dry, disgusting. However I find Zabars nova scotia to be more even, always oily and great. The sable however that i bought was very good. Also I find the staff at Zabars knows how to slice the lox, at R&D it is hit and miss.

                                                      11 Replies
                                                      1. re: irvingk

                                                        Go to Nate & Al's in Beverly Hills, not today but 15 years ago; get the smoked fish platter. The only constant in life is ......change. N&A today is like corned beef on white w/mayo.

                                                        1. re: irvingk

                                                          Unfortunately I've found no matter where I've purchased smoked salmon, if the slicing is done at the beginning of the fish, the fish is almost always drier than if sliced from the middle/end. I've sometimes picked a different type of smoked salmon if the counterperson needs to start a new fish for slicing. My favorite is gaspe.

                                                          1. re: ellenost

                                                            It's also ridiculous to throw it in the trash. Russ & Daughters definitely would do the right thing if they sold you something you weren't happy with.

                                                            -----
                                                            Russ & Daughters
                                                            179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

                                                            1. re: Blumie

                                                              Blumie

                                                              I didn't know this till the next day when I ate it. The only thing is that they slice the fish in an area where you cant see what they are slicing. I am sure if i complained they would ;have done something but I live in Brooklyn and it is not worth the trip to go back. At Zabar you can see them slicing the fish and speak up right there if you dont like it. I also have the same experience with the smoked salmon from Fairway in Brooklyn. Most of the guys at the counter are inexperienced and don't know how to slice the lox. At Zabar they are all experienced and know how to slice it.

                                                              1. re: irvingk

                                                                I've been going to R&D for more than 10 years, and I've always watched the slicing of the fish (that's how I know if they're starting a new fish).

                                                                1. re: ellenost

                                                                  Ellenost

                                                                  Ive been going there for 40 years. There was no way I could not see the way the guy was slicing the fish behind the counter.

                                                                  1. re: irvingk

                                                                    A solution is to notice which fish is being sliced or to ask whether they're starting a new fish when they slice. (Maybe it's because I'm short, but I can always see through the window case when the counter person is slicing).

                                                                    1. re: ellenost

                                                                      You are right on the solution. When I was there on Saturday I was the only one in the store and nothing was being sliced so I did not know.

                                                                      1. re: ellenost

                                                                        And if you do end up with something inferior, a phone call will usually help to rectify things with a reputable establishment. Explaining the situation, your disappointment, and the fact that you are not close by will most likely earn you a credit without the need to bring the fish back. I have done this, not with R&D but other places (including Zabar's) and a cordial attitude works.

                                                            2. re: irvingk

                                                              Wish I had checked this thread this morning - I was there today and had a similar experience. I was thinking of trying a salmon other than gaspe, when I told the guy what I liked he said "gaspe" and started slicing. I couldn't see the fish and foolishly didn't check, until I got home. Dry and kinda leathery, clearly not the preferred part of the fish. I'm usually happy with R+D but this was a bummer. I feel ripped off.

                                                              1. re: Chuck Lawrence

                                                                Another solution is to always ask for a taste of what they are slicing for you. They always will obglie.

                                                            3. The bagels are notoriously less than fresh. This isn't the first review that complained about them.... and you should be able to eat a bagel open faced, or closed....their sandwiches are not served open face, and if they prepare you a sandwich it should be as good as if you bought all the ingredients from them separately and made it at home.

                                                              I've never had a notable bagel with schmear there... which is sad, because they have a world class schmear.

                                                              36 Replies
                                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                                I must disagree about the bagels. They are very chewy, yes, but the way traditional bagels should be; they are not stale. The problem is that many people have only had puffed up, soft bagels and are not accustomed to the real thing.

                                                                1. re: City Kid

                                                                  I call them bread rings. Traditional (water) bagels are boiled before the final baking process. The bread rings are just baked.

                                                                  1. re: City Kid

                                                                    City Kid - I've experienced stale cardboard like bagels there, and other reports confirm it's a pretty common problem. Even if they're fresh, it tastes to me like they get delivery every other day, or at the end of the day before closing.

                                                                  2. re: sugartoof

                                                                    First off they do serve open faced sandwiches, you just need to ask for it. Most people in the US have become accustomed to eat a double sided sandwich (or whatever you would call it) so they serve it that way.

                                                                    Secondly traditional chewy NY bagels are not designed to be eaten in that manner. Just because that became popular since the bagel was invented does not mean that it should be eaten that way. The two bagel halves have distinct textures and should be enjoyed separately. The top half is a lot lighter while the bottom is denser and chewier. A bagel with smoked cured fish was never meant to be an on the go type item. It was meant to be eaten open faced. Appetizing stores also did not always sell sandwiches, this is a somewhat new development.

                                                                    1. re: MVNYC

                                                                      There's nothing more traditional about an open faced sandwich, nor is it a cultural or regional tradition. It's as absurd as talking about pizza eating traditions. There is no wrong or right way to eat a bagel.

                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                        Traditionally bagels with appetizing have been served open faced. The reasons why are so the dish does not get smashes into a gelatinous mess, so the filling does not shoot out the side and so you can enjoy the different halves of the bagel. It isn't right or wrong but it is efficient and tastier. Nothing absurd at all there.

                                                                        Traditionally appetizing stores were not places you were able to get sandwiches, they were markets where you purchase components. The sandwich thing is relatively new which makes people forget that places like R&D are appetizing stores first, not sandwich shops.

                                                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                                                          While many join you in your personal tradition, I think you're mistaking personal preference with authenticity. You also mentioned you're partial to a lox and butter combo. More power to you.

                                                                          An open is only standard at some sit down places when you order it with lox, tomatoes, onions, and capers. To me, that combo is a no-no....but I'm absolutely certain it's authentic to someone else. We school people all the time on the supposedly right and wrong way to eat various ethnic foods, but I don't think this is one area where it's really deserved.

                                                                          Same with the chopped liver...if they sell it, then it should be good.

                                                                          You're right the sandwiches are a recent addition...but again, if they sell them, they should be good, and well assembled.

                                                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                                                            I never said my preferences are the tradition. My preferences are a bit odd though I do try to convert. Regardless of my personal predilections, one cannot argue that Jewish Appetizing was traditionally a type of meal that was purchased at an appetizing store and then eaten at home. Those people who were eating at home assembled an open faced sandwich with the assorted products purchased at said store. The reasons were stated above.

                                                                            There is a reason tradition appears in the history of a cuisine. It is because someone figured out the best way to do it.

                                                                            1. re: MVNYC

                                                                              "Those people who were eating at home assembled an open faced sandwich"

                                                                              Sure....sometimes. There was no Rabbinical decree. There's a long tradition of using bagels closed as a sandwich as well.

                                                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                Don't remember EVER seeing a closed face lox, cream cheese on a bagel as a kid. The consistencies are all wrong, and the taste of the expensive lox gets lost in the chewing of the cheap bagel. Makes no economic or culinary sense. Rabbinical decree? No. But anyone who does it differently than open face is an abomination in the sight of God and Man, and shall be smote with a fearsome wrath, IMHO.

                                                                                  1. re: addictedtolunch

                                                                                    Exactly, closed faced bagel sandwiches are a new invention. One I might add designed for people who don't quite understand the delicacies of the cuisine. One can make an (not exact) analogy to nigiri sushi. The expensive fish rests atop a piece of rice, not sandwiched between two. You want the texture and flavour of the fish to hit your tongue, you do not want it obscured by rice. If you have scraps you put it in a roll, or conversely if you have cheap cured fish I suppose you would sandwich it between two pieces of bagel.

                                                                                    Appetizing stores did not always sell sandwiches. When they started I would imagine they did it close faced because it was easier to wrap.

                                                                                    1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                      Oh please. Most people are eating Smoked Salmon and not actual Lox, firstly. It simply doesn't matter how you eat it, closed, open, a lot of schmear, no schmear,a thin layer of schmear.......etc.

                                                                                        1. re: ellenost

                                                                                          Oy vey!! I am getting a headache over this. Russ and Daughter is a NYC institution. So, someone had a "bad experience". Get over it already.

                                                                                        2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                          I don't believe I said most people are eating lox over smoked salmon.

                                                                                          The main point of the complaint was that the filling shot out of the sandwich. If you take a hard, round piece of bread and stuff it with wet fillings, when you compress it the filling will fall out. If you eat it open faced, you will not have this problem. Again, anybody can eat anything however they want but they shouldn't complain about the results if there are consequences to their inefficiency.

                                                                                          1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                            How Scandinavian.

                                                                                            Personally, I find it harder to eat it open face, because I often have to rebuild with each bite when the salmon gets yanked out of place.

                                                                                            Anyway, yes...both styles of eating it have a time or place, a tradition, and are perfectly acceptable based on preference. No shame there. The OP found their bagel tough, so their concerns would have come up, open face or not.

                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                              Maybe you just need your teeth sharpened. :-)

                                                                                              1. re: gutsofsteel

                                                                                                Or to stop buying crappy bagels, and avoid tough thick slices of fish. It's much easier to concede the open face requires me to futz around a lot.

                                                                                                Don't panic, I keep the toof well sharpened on rock candy and jawbreakers.

                                                                                        3. re: MVNYC

                                                                                          this is one of the most laughable things i have ever heard. closed faced bagel sandwiches are a new phenomena? so 4 generations of my family who have been eating bagel sandwiches with smoked fish in the middle have been doing it wrong? in the words of george oscar bluth, "come on!" that said, let's tone down the rhetoric. however you want to shove cured fish, cream cheese and bagels in your mouth is fine with me.

                                                                                          your analogy is also completely off base considering that smoked/cured fish (whether salmon, sturgeon, or anything else) was not at the outset considered a delicacy but more a method for preserving food from spoiling, same as pastrami. now because the amount of people still curing and smoking food with care - i'm thinking of r&d for fish and katz's for pastrami - the price has increased and it's deemed a delicacy because of the expense.

                                                                                          1. re: jon

                                                                                            I have to agree, this is hilarious, oh the things people can pontificate on. I have been eating smoked fish of all kinds forever -- as did generations of my family before me -- sometimes open-faced sometimes closed depending on convenience. I honestly never thought of it as a hot-button issue before. All I know is it tastes really good...but maybe I don't appreciate the "delicacies of the cuisine!" I wish my Eastern European grandparents were still around to read this.

                                                                                            1. re: jon

                                                                                              Jon - I agree, though interestingly enough there was period where Lox wasn't so affordable for Eastern Europeans. Part of the popularity were rulings that made Lox exempt from kosher regulations of the day.

                                                                                              1. re: jon

                                                                                                So you family got appetizing, took it home and assembled closed sandwiches? Yes that is odd. I spoke with a few old timers today and they too found that strange.

                                                                                                Many of today's current delicacies were born from preserving methods, what is your point?

                                                                                                1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                  "Old timer" here (sorta). Sometimes a "chazar" in the family would make a closed-face, whole-bagel sandwich, even way back when, but that was not the way it was usually done, and an injustice to good nova.

                                                                                                  And I don't agree with the above posters who seek to minimize this important issue. The apathy displayed by you youngsters is very disconcerting.

                                                                                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                    My family in Brooklyn also assembled closed lox (yes-40 years ago we ate lox!) sandwiches. The bagels came from either the appetizing store (used to be on Kings Highway) or the bagel store on Avenue U that were soft. It wasn't that unusual for families to eat closed lox sandwiches or sable sandwiches. I eat open sandwiches these days to eat more smoked salmon (gaspe for me from R&D--no more lox). I think this CH board should put to rest the discussion of the proper way to eat a sandwich. Chacun a son gout!

                                                                                                    1. re: ellenost

                                                                                                      Agreed. Bickering over food dogma is absurd. We're not even talking about Kashrut laws! I'd bet most of this discussion will see deletion anyway.

                                                                                                      I hope everyone finds much happiness and bagel eating any way that brings them joy.

                                                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                        If you think the bickering is absurd, why do you keep responding? I will quote the real Jay-Hova "A wise man told me don't argue with fools
                                                                                                        Cause people from a distance can't tell who is who"

                                                                                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                          Being a real lover of smoked fish, I took the time to read each and every response on this thread. All I can say is God bless Chowhounders. These "discussions" are priceless.
                                                                                                          FYI, I have rekindled the flames of another debate/discussion on the "Smoked Sturgeon?" CH thread. I hope that many of the responders to this thread read and enjoy it. Zabar

                                                                                                          1. re: Zabar

                                                                                                            I used to be a regular at R&D. Sunday was incomplete without an early morning visit to get the makings for breakfast. At the timeI think they got their bagels from Moishe's, a little bit East. I was then a member of the Columbia Hot Bagels faction, so I waited, and bought the bagels on the way home to the UWS.

                                                                                                            I would consider it a great favor if someone would tell me if this is all nostalgia, or if Columbia Hot and R&D are still the best. (I always found H&H to be an abomination. The bagels were too big, and there was no malt in the boil.)

                                                                                                            One more memory: I often ran into Calvin Trillin at R&D. Once Mark introduced him, but I never generated the chutzpah to call him "Bud." I did pretend to my friends that I called him Bud, however.

                                                                                                            1. re: PesachBenSchlomo

                                                                                                              Considering bagel sizes....H&H turned into the provider of one of the smallest if not the very smallest bagels in the city, if that puts things into context. Murray's was making the old style smaller bagels when they first opened, but that didn't last long. Seems to me everything is roughly about Pick-A-Bagel size now.

                                                                                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                The crowd on the Boulevard never grows old. I have assumed a liminal status in my old age. Only this board keeps me in touch.

                                                                                                                1. re: PesachBenSchlomo

                                                                                                                  I have continued my quest for the perfect bagel; ordering the "bagel twists" from Rolens Bagels in Riverdale (the Bronx) and having them shipped to me in New Jersey.
                                                                                                                  Lately, I have been devouring the "flagels" from a bagel bakery (Binghamton Bagel Cafe).in Edgewater, NJ. The baker at this place also makes a very respectable bialy; although Kossar's still reigns supreme in my mind as the quintessential source for bialystokers. Zabar

                                                                                                                  1. re: Zabar

                                                                                                                    Zabar: If you are the connoisseur of Eastern European Jewish food it seems you are, go to Kossar's for the pletzl (for those who don't know very large flat discs of bread with onion baked on top.) I can't find them anywhere else and they bring back childhood memories of weekly visits from my Russian grandfather!

                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                    Kossar's Bialys
                                                                                                                    367 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

                                                                                                                    1. re: City Kid

                                                                                                                      A tip, regarding Kossar's.... They bake fresh after 9 or so in the evening hours, and in particular, if you wait for the Sabbath to end on a Saturday, you can catch them working real late in the evening to restock the majority of the store. It's the best time to go.

                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                      Kossar's Bialys
                                                                                                                      367 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

                                                                                                                    2. re: Zabar

                                                                                                                      Thats pretty funny. I grew up in the Bronx and would always get Rolen Bagels and its' sister place the Bagel Corner products many times. nice chewy old school bagels. Those twists were good too, especially fresh out of the oven.

                                                                                                                      I no longer live there but stop in when I am in the area. They still make an excellent product.