Restaurant Spotting: Russ & Daughters Uptown
For a century-old establishment, Russ & Daughters has remained remarkably adept at keeping its name in the news. Not content with merely slinging bagels and lox to nostalgia-seekers from their original Lower East Side storefront, fourth generation owners, Josh Russ Tepper and Niki Russ Federman, have grown the business by leaps and bounds in the last few years. In addition to opening a chic café last May (riding high on the nouveau Jewish cuisine movement, with caviar service, smoked sable boards, kippered mac and cheese and babka ice cream sandwiches), and announcing a massive manufacturing center and retail shop, slated for the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s upcoming food hall, they’ve recently landed on the Upper East Side as well, with an outpost aptly situated inside the Jewish Museum.
Featuring a takeaway appetizing counter and a 60-seat restaurant, it’s actually Russ & Daughters first, 100% kosher spot — a savvy move, considering its location. And instead of outsourcing, they’re also producing their own baked goods (including babka, bialys and yes, bagels!) entirely in-house; the ultimate compliment to their heralded smoked salmon, whitefish and pickled herring. Among the various noshes, the Vegetarian Chopped Liver is a special, Upper East Side addition; a savory paste made with toasted walnuts, caramelized onions, chopped eggs, chickpeas and string beans. There are also Israeli-inspired breakfast additions, like shakshuka (served with wedges of the now homemade challah), and light, luxe bites, including Gravlax Tea Sandwiches topped with a trio of herrings, and paired with green apples, cream sauce and mustard seeds, and a quadrant of creamy Deviled Eggs, crowned with bright bubbles of Alaskan salmon roe, and paired with planks of “everything” strewn matzoh. (And we are psyched about everything strewn matzoh!)
Hard to believe for a business that opened in 1914, but Russ and Daughters is definitely not resting on its laurels — we mean its pastrami-cured lox.