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May 7, 2014 05:26 PM

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. 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.

        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.

                2. 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.

                  16 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

                 do need a return...I was there, had the lox and it is just the 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. re: hill food

                            Hill Food - I just now saw this. This is why we have the Vamoose bus. So we can go to NY, take the F train down to the LES, walk across Houston St to Katz's....and now, you can do Russ & Daughters Cafe, too. We usually do lunch at Katz's and then go to the original R&D (i.e., the store) and buy fish to carry home on the bus.

                            So yeah, your sandwich will be $18 plus $70 but SO WORTH IT.

                            And for those questioning the amount of fish for the cost, there is also a bagel and cream cheese and service and NYC RENT! You don't want to pay that much, buy it to go and then go home.

                            1. re: Just Visiting

                              mmmm it is understood among friends I have a standing order for anyone going anywhere near R+D or Zabar's.

                          3. What a beautiful plate of fish