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Is Russ & Daughters Cafe everything l hoped it would be? Yes.

l kept it simple: The Shtetl: smoked sable, goat cream cheese, bialy [fresh from Kossar's], capers, tomato, red onion. The sable was sublime, absolutely melting in the mouth. The service was very nice. The menu has a lot of items, both food and drink, that look very interesting and enticing. The place has the ambiance of a more warmly-lit Russ-of-Houston St.

l went at about 4:30, and was seated immediately. Starting next week they start opening at 8am [!]. l barely scratched the surface of the menu [didn't even try an egg cream], but something tells me they've just hit it out of the park. More power to 'em, and more smoked and brined delights for me!

lt only took a hundred years, but damn, it was worth the wait.


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  1. I love the place, as I love the old spot on Houston. That being said, they are not perfect. On my last visit I went with cooked items as I regularly bring home and enjoy the smoked fish and refrigerated items. The eggs benedict were good but the smoked salmon was overwhelmed by the spinach and Hollandaise,the great quality of the salmon was wasted. The whitefish chowder has to be reworked. It was a standard white chowder base with no discernible whitefish flavor. Buried like a needle in a haystack of potatoes were a few slivers of smoked whitefish. Finally, the babka French Toast. Great babka,I buy it at the store by the loaf but here it gains nothing but sogginess from the egg wash. I will stick with a bagel,shmear and lox. and herring plate. and sturgeon. Platters of fish are the way to go, a great way to go.

    1. So, it took a hundred years--we should be grateful. If I'm not mistaken R&D is the sole survivor of smoked (and brined) fish on the LES--once more plentiful, many years ago.

      It's always been pricey; it's always been delectable. Traditionally savored, eating a large portion of the same is not necessary; this is a delicacy.

      2 Replies
        1. re: ZaZa

          When I was a kid in the 1950's it was cheap and plentiful. It was still reasonably here in NYC until the 1980's...

        2. Got it, from the daily...

          ' cafe at 127 Orchard St.'

          thanks for the review.

          1. where is this second location.

            the website only has this
            " they opened a second location that allows you to sit down an eat."


            179 East Houston Street

            New York, NY 10002

            I plan to go, and have not a clue, though could just ask at their old store on Houston.

            Thank you

            1. I went on a weekday morning. No wait.

              I had one of the Boards, "the Classic." Kossar's bialy , a few slices of Summer tomato, nova, purple onion, capers.

              Against my better judgment I had a bloody mary. Caraway infused vodka garnished with a rye crouton and pickled veg.

              The ambience is perfection including the suggestion to " be a mensch" at the host station.

              4 Replies
              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                Was the bloody mary good? Sounds like it could go either way.... Just against your better judgement since you were on your way to work ....? ;) you could add it to the list for that poster who was having a rough week..!

                1. re: Ttrockwood

                  It was really good. I asked my server and that was the one she suggested. There were several other Bloody Mary choices. Quite a few gin cocktails as well. I don't do gin.
                  Can't wait to go back. Need to drink and eat my way through the menu.

                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                    I forgot to mention I didn't experience any service issues mentioned by previous posters.

                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                      The Beet Shrub made me want to drink my way through the menu too! Very satisfying, it was neither sweet or overly tart, just the essence of beet with a background of lemon, Yum.

                2. I have to take my father (born on Orchard St) here for breakfast one day... walk him around for a while and then to Katz's for lunch.. he will think he died and went to heaven. Def not on Fathers Day though... the lines will be insane with all the old guys just like him.

                  1. What's the seating like? May take a party of 6.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: funnymercials

                      They have deep booths that can seat six.

                    2. This has just nudged me to plan a NYC visit a bit sooner...

                      1. nice...im excited to try even though i eat at russ and daughters somewhat regularly

                        this place is like 3 minute walk from my place...very happy about it

                          1. Is the super heebster on the menu?

                            1 Reply
                            1. As I live out of town, I can't check myself so I have a two part question:

                              Do they serve Eggs Nova and Onions? If they do, how does it compare to Barney Greengrass?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: tpigeon

                                tpigeon: yes they do - it is in fact what i had when i ate there - it was flawless:
                                here's my pic: http://instagram.com/p/n3NfXBMb7J/

                                a few notes on the place:

                                portion size & price :: i find both the portion sizes & prices to be fairly reasonable. i'm reticent to call the sizes too small -> if anything, i find them ample and well controlled. I don't like to waste food & i feel like many restaurants jack up the size of the plates to make the value seem better which leads to overeating. But I digress -> short of the long i thought the prices were fair (we had: eggs bennedict, latkes, nova + eggs + onions, and a salmon & bagel plate).

                                service :: while very friendly, service there is not up to speed. One might expect that given the transition in the business model from their original outpost, but nonetheless, don't be surprised if you find yourself treated to a super friendly server who doesn't quite have the knack for the game nor the motivation to deliver things in a timely manner. I suspect that will get better.

                                1. re: foodiebuddha

                                  I thought the service was good, warm and friendly..

                                  1. re: PHREDDY

                                    oh it was extremely warm and friendly, just not efficient. That'll get fixed, I'm sure. They were slammed when we were there, we were in the first seating right when they opened.

                              2. Well, checked it out this weekend. Not sure what to make of the "lt only took a hundred years" bit, since it's not like you couldn't get everything mentioned in the original post during the last 100 years. I mean, we've had sable and bialys and goat cheese for awhile, now.

                                Anyway, as others have said - food is delicious, portions are wee bit skimpy for the prices. And yes, I know restaurant prices are more than retail - enough with that silliness. One expects to pay more for their fish (even if all they're doing is slicing it and putting it on a board - I mean, you could buy your own sashimi-grade tuna and cut it yourself for less, after all...) but simply comparing to other restaurants in the area, there are a few things they could do to beef up the perceived value.

                                The "Pastrami Russ" was undeniably delicious, but about the size of a hot dog. And by "hot dog" I mean just that - not quite a hot dog in a bun, closer to "a" hot dog. For $12 the little cigar that came out of the kitchen seemed a bit... disproportionate. We were kind of taken aback, honestly. Yes, the fish on it is the best quality. And yes, you'd pay $12 for an appetizer somewhere at dinner that'd be about the same size. But that appetizer would, more than likely, not be 85% bread. (I'm not saying it was too bready, mind you - it was balanced just right, actually)

                                If they bumped the price up to $15 or $16 and just made it an actual full sandwich, I don't think anyone would complain. It would cost them all of 50 cents to do that, so heck, they'd make more profit, too.

                                Eggs Benedict (not what I'd normally think of ordering, but it's a good way to test a restaurant kitchen) was great - wasn't crazy about the challah bread (it kind of dissolved into nothing when the yolks hit it) but the eggs were perfectly poached, and I liked that they used both salmon and spinach, kind of combining Eggs Norwegian and Florentine. Though again, at $18, it felt a little light. It was just the Benny - that's it. For $18, a pretty standard brunch price in the 'hood, put some potatoes on the plate or a little side salad. Preferably both. Again, the cost would be minimal - a fistful of mesclun or arugula with some vinaigrette costs all of three cents. A half-cup of potato hash costs what, a dime? These are things that cost next-to-nothing that, again, increase the -perceived- value. There's a reason why they're on practically every egg-based brunch plate everywhere. I wouldn't bat an eye at the $18 tag then.

                                Herring sampler was good - herring on a plate, a couple dippin' sauces, and not enough bread slices (three little thin ones for something like twenty pieces of herring) - nice nosh to start. Yes, pricier than what you'd pay at the store, but no biggie. Regular, Matjes, schmaltz, and rollmops. The rollmops were nice and meaty, but I've always found their Matjes a bit too salty for my taste.

                                (Also, for herring on the LES, Nordic Preserves at Essex Market has officially replaced R&D as my primary source... their herring is the bomb.)

                                Looking at some of the other plates going by, it seemed portions were hard to predict... I saw what I think was the kippered salmon board that had what looked like a perfectly reasonable portion on it, compared to the sable pictured above. So who knows?

                                Aside from the prices feeling a bit out of whack, the only major complaint was the pot of tea. If you're serving loose-leaf tea by the pot, bring a saucer so the customer can pull out the strainer once it's brewed to their liking. Or brew it and take the leaves out before serving. We had one nice cup, but the rest of the pot was overbrewed, bitter, and undrinkable.

                                They're new, and hopefully they'll work out a few of the kinks. I often feel bad writing negative things about a place when they're less than a week old, but how else would they know what people are thinking?

                                Again - food, delicious. Service was great, too. I'll be back to try other things for sure. But no one likes to leave a place feeling like they got a bad deal. That's just not a way to build a local client base.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: sgordon

                                  By "it only took a hundred years," I was talking about there finally being a place where you can sit and be served Russ' offerings.

                                  1. re: howdini

                                    Well, you -could- get R&D lox with a bagel & cream cheese at The Mark... for $22. (Talk about overpriced...)

                                2. Does anyone know if the cafe will affect wheather the original location keeps selling sandwiches? I can't seem to find anything helpful online...

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                                    I was at the store today. They certainly had signs up for their sandwiches. I didn't try to get one, but there was no indication whatsoever that they won't anymore be making sandwiches to go there.

                                    1. re: Pan

                                      Ok, ((whew!!)). In the warmer weather R&D is often a stop with friends for picnic-ables!

                                    2. re: Ttrockwood

                                      They definitely still have the sandwiches at the original. Just had one this weekend. Excellent as ever.

                                    3. They have Babka French Toast? I can't wait until my next trip....

                                      1. Yumm..goat cream cheese. Sounds delicious.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Monica

                                          It's the greatest. We like this one at Whole Foods (I'm sure it's available elsewhere):

                                        2. What a beautiful plate of fish

                                          1. seeing as I am not anywhere near NYC, I am seething in jealousy and consumed with naught but spite. I hope people treasure what they have.

                                            14 Replies
                                            1. re: hill food

                                              Could they be more generous with the fish? Absolutely. Do l treasure that this is a place that l can take a ten minute walk to? Absolutely, too.

                                              1. re: howdini

                                                If you can get there in ten minutes, you can get to the store in ten minutes too. And they're much more generous with the fish there, it appears.

                                                I mean, it's understandable - table service and whatnot, there'd be a bit of a markup. But that portion looks pretty teeny-tiny to me for the price, even with the bialy and whatnot included.

                                                Not that I won't still try the place... some of the prices on other things look fine. And Babka French Toast!

                                                1. re: sgordon

                                                  im not sure thats true - that looks like a 10+ dollar portion of sable if purchased at the store, add to that the bialy and cream cheese and it doesnt seem like a bad deal.

                                                  Im confused by "theyre more generous with the fish there" - do you mean at the store? are you talking about the prepared sandwiches because they can be generous with weighed-by-the-pound fish all they want, youre paying for every ounce.

                                                  perhaps ill have to do a side by side test involving a kitchen scale . . . for science (and not as an excuse to eat more sable, no never that).

                                                  1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                    I buy sable by the 1/8 of a lb all the time and that looks to be about 1/2 the portion you would get, maybe less. $3 or $4 worth of fish.

                                                    A 1/4 lb portion would be $12.50 at $50lb, does that look anywhere close to a 1/4lb of fish?

                                                    1. re: MVNYC

                                                      This is a restaurant, not a store. When you order the $18 pasta at a restaurant, how much do you get? Maybe $2 worth? $2.50 if you factor in the sauce? If you want the value, get the fish at the store and prepare it at home. If you want to eat in the restaurant, you have to pay for the privilege. No different at any other restaurant.

                                                        1. re: Blumie

                                                          Thanks for the explanation but I'm well aware of how a restaurant works. Still looks like a skimpy portion as you construct your own sandwich.

                                                          I don't know about you but the reasons I go out to eat are because there is something I can't make or don't want to make in my own kitchen. The construction of a sandwich is not one of these things. To use your pasta example, I actually make pretty good fresh pasta but flour gets everywhere and it's a pain in the ass to clean up. The act of sandwich making is easy and you get way more fish. So if you want to pay $18 for the privilege of sitting somewhere and still making your own sandwich be my guest.

                                                          As I said if it lessens the line at the original location all the better.

                                                          1. re: MVNYC

                                                            Then by your logic, the price is irrelevant.

                                                            1. re: Blumie

                                                              I had the same sandwich yesterday. 3 pieces of sable on my $18 plate. Sandwich was delicious, but price is absurd. I also had a mushroom barley soup (good) and ginger soda. With 20% tip, 40 bucks. Too much.
                                                              And although the 'make it yourself' concept is cute, it felt like insult to injury...

                                                2. re: hill food

                                                  I am the same shade of green.

                                                  I've been to R&D once, about 5 years ago, and found the fish sublime. i think this renders a return trip inevitable, even though i'm way over on the lefty coast.

                                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                                    MDC...you do need a return...I was there, had the lox and it is just the best...next time you are here call me , it will be on me...

                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                      Well, you could always place a mail order....but i suspect shipping is astronomical...

                                                      1. re: Ttrockwood


                                                        i'd rather spend the money in NYC!

                                                  2. Was that all the sable you go for $18?

                                                    7 Replies
                                                      1. re: MVNYC

                                                        are you surprised? much as i love R&D the pricing is what it is.

                                                        on the website (not sure about the original store) they get $50/lb for the sable.

                                                        1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                          ln the past, l've spent more for less, that's for sure. And for a plate of food as deeply satisfying as this, $18 isn't too unreasonable.

                                                          1. re: howdini

                                                            Considering it sells for almost $50/lb, it looks like a pretty generous portion for $18.

                                                            And it looks amazing.

                                                              1. re: valerie

                                                                I was really struck by the value when I went last week - while the smoked fish isn't cheap (it IS the best!), it seemed to me they were at pains to keep prices down wherever possible -- and many of the small plates (fish-free), are under $10.

                                                                I also appreciated that latkes (EXCELLENT) were the same price whether topped with applesauce and sour cream, or salmon roe and creme fraiche.

                                                            1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                              Well that looks to be about 1/16 lb or so. $3.13-$4.00 worth of fish maybe. That's less than you'd get in a sandwich at the original. If this makes the lines shorter, all the better.

                                                            1. re: kathryn

                                                              As l said to a friend of mine, Russ' sable should just be called "silkfish."

                                                              Thanks for reminding me yesterday that they opened today, Kathryn!

                                                              1. re: howdini

                                                                I'd never had sable or goat cheese with a bagel before so I paid R&D a visit to recreate your sandwich. I have no words. Just perfection.

                                                                1. re: JungMann

                                                                  lndeed. l'd normally be hesitant to spend that much for something like this, but ye gods, is it good. Everything about it. Add to this that the service was really nice, and the atmosphere strikes a nice balance between cool and warm.

                                                                  1. re: JungMann

                                                                    im not clear from your post -did you go to the cafe as the OP did or to the original store to get the goods to make it yourself. If the latter can you comment on the price disparity?

                                                                    1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                                      Based on the MVNYC's feedback I went to the store and ordered the Shtetl. $16 bought me a generous-sized sandwich, but were I to count, it was probably only 2 or so slices more than what was served to the OP.