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

howdini May 7, 2014 05:26 PM

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_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream RE: howdini May 7, 2014 05:28 PM

    Thanks for posting this!

    1 Reply
    1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream
      howdini RE: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream May 7, 2014 05:38 PM

      Believe me, it was my pleasure!

    2. k
      kathryn RE: howdini May 7, 2014 05:55 PM

      Sigh, wish I had some sable right now!

      6 Replies
      1. re: kathryn
        howdini RE: kathryn May 7, 2014 06:20 PM

        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
          JungMann RE: howdini May 15, 2014 10:44 AM

          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
            howdini RE: JungMann May 15, 2014 11:10 AM

            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
              tex.s.toast RE: JungMann May 15, 2014 01:41 PM

              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
                JungMann RE: tex.s.toast May 16, 2014 06:47 AM

                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.

                1. re: JungMann
                  howdini RE: JungMann May 16, 2014 09:56 AM

                  I WAS ROBBED!!!!!!!11!!

        2. MVNYC RE: howdini May 7, 2014 07:04 PM

          Was that all the sable you go for $18?

          7 Replies
          1. re: MVNYC
            howdini RE: MVNYC May 7, 2014 07:24 PM



            1. re: MVNYC
              tex.s.toast RE: MVNYC May 8, 2014 06:46 AM

              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
                howdini RE: tex.s.toast May 8, 2014 06:54 AM

                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
                  valerie RE: howdini May 8, 2014 06:58 AM

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

                  And it looks amazing.

                  1. re: valerie
                    howdini RE: valerie May 8, 2014 07:16 AM

                    lt was fkn DELICIOUS.

                    1. re: valerie
                      sadie RE: valerie May 8, 2014 11:50 AM

                      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.

                  2. re: tex.s.toast
                    MVNYC RE: tex.s.toast May 8, 2014 08:27 AM

                    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.

                2. hill food RE: howdini May 7, 2014 07:52 PM

                  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
                    howdini RE: hill food May 7, 2014 08:47 PM

                    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
                      sgordon RE: howdini May 9, 2014 01:14 PM

                      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
                        tex.s.toast RE: sgordon May 9, 2014 01:44 PM

                        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
                          MVNYC RE: tex.s.toast May 9, 2014 02:22 PM

                          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
                            Blumie RE: MVNYC May 9, 2014 03:27 PM

                            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
                              valerie RE: Blumie May 9, 2014 08:49 PM

                              Couldn't agree more.

                              1. re: Blumie
                                MVNYC RE: Blumie May 10, 2014 09:36 AM

                                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
                                  Blumie RE: MVNYC May 10, 2014 10:57 AM

                                  Then by your logic, the price is irrelevant.

                                  1. re: Blumie
                                    abu applesauce RE: Blumie May 29, 2014 08:57 AM

                                    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
                        mariacarmen RE: hill food May 15, 2014 01:49 PM

                        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
                          PHREDDY RE: mariacarmen May 15, 2014 03:51 PM

                          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: PHREDDY
                            mariacarmen RE: PHREDDY May 15, 2014 03:57 PM

                            aw, sweet!

                          2. re: mariacarmen
                            Ttrockwood RE: mariacarmen May 16, 2014 02:08 PM

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

                            1. re: Ttrockwood
                              mariacarmen RE: Ttrockwood May 16, 2014 04:30 PM


                              i'd rather spend the money in NYC!

                        2. a
                          AubWah RE: howdini May 8, 2014 05:50 AM

                          What a beautiful plate of fish

                          1. Monica RE: howdini May 8, 2014 12:03 PM

                            Yumm..goat cream cheese. Sounds delicious.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Monica
                              foodiemom10583 RE: Monica May 8, 2014 12:23 PM

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

                            2. s
                              six dower RE: howdini May 9, 2014 10:56 AM

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

                              1. Ttrockwood RE: howdini May 9, 2014 03:50 PM

                                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
                                  Pan RE: Ttrockwood May 10, 2014 02:03 AM

                                  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
                                    Ttrockwood RE: Pan May 15, 2014 01:27 PM

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

                                  2. re: Ttrockwood
                                    _emilie_ RE: Ttrockwood May 15, 2014 01:22 PM

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

                                  3. sgordon RE: howdini May 12, 2014 09:23 AM

                                    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
                                      howdini RE: sgordon May 12, 2014 09:50 AM

                                      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
                                        sgordon RE: howdini May 12, 2014 12:21 PM

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

                                    2. t
                                      tpigeon RE: howdini May 15, 2014 11:21 AM

                                      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
                                        foodiebuddha RE: tpigeon May 15, 2014 12:15 PM

                                        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
                                          PHREDDY RE: foodiebuddha May 15, 2014 04:05 PM

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

                                          1. re: PHREDDY
                                            foodiebuddha RE: PHREDDY May 16, 2014 08:18 AM

                                            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. Rmis32 RE: howdini May 16, 2014 01:13 PM

                                        Is the super heebster on the menu?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Rmis32
                                          howdini RE: Rmis32 May 16, 2014 01:18 PM


                                        2. h
                                          Humbucker RE: howdini May 16, 2014 06:48 PM

                                          re: pricing


                                          1. l
                                            Lau RE: howdini May 19, 2014 09:28 AM

                                            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. meatn3 RE: howdini May 21, 2014 08:58 PM

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

                                              1. f
                                                funnymercials RE: howdini May 27, 2014 04:53 PM

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

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: funnymercials
                                                  howdini RE: funnymercials May 27, 2014 05:44 PM

                                                  They have deep booths that can seat six.

                                                  1. re: howdini
                                                    funnymercials RE: howdini May 28, 2014 05:14 AM

                                                    howdini, thanks.

                                                2. d
                                                  dyrewolf RE: howdini May 28, 2014 08:58 AM

                                                  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. financialdistrictresident RE: howdini Jul 3, 2014 03:56 PM

                                                    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.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                                      Ttrockwood RE: financialdistrictresident Jul 3, 2014 04:22 PM

                                                      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
                                                        financialdistrictresident RE: Ttrockwood Jul 3, 2014 04:58 PM

                                                        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
                                                          financialdistrictresident RE: financialdistrictresident Jul 4, 2014 04:03 AM

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

                                                    2. jonkyo RE: howdini Jul 4, 2014 07:15 AM

                                                      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. jonkyo RE: howdini Jul 4, 2014 07:18 AM

                                                        Got it, from the daily...

                                                        ' cafe at 127 Orchard St.'

                                                        thanks for the review.

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