Our final day in New York was going to be pretty short. We had to head to the airport for early evening flights. It was almost time for my part of the birthday trip! Stephanie really wanted to visit New York, but I was here for the airplanes. That evening I would be flying on United’s inaugural 787-10 flight from Newark, and I was extremely excited. But we had a half day to go before then. If you have been following this trip, you know this means one thing. FOOD! People go to New York for lots of reasons like seeing the sites, fashion, work, art, and theatre. For me, it is all about the food. Cannoli, Pizza, and Bagels, oh my! Our first stop today was Russ and Daughters.
Russ & Daughters
We choose to goto Russ & Daughters on the recommendation of a friend from work. I trusted her because she is the same friend who recommended Compagno’s in Monterey. Russ & Daughters isa New York institution. Like all of the best NYC restaurants, it is family owned, and has been family owned for over 100 years. Russ and Daughters was opened in 1914 by a Polish immigrant, Joel Russ as “J Russ International Appetizers”. Then in 1933, Russ made his three daughters partners in the restaurant and changed the name to “Russ & Daughters”. Women did not run businesses in the 1930s, but Russ wanted to establish a life for his daughters. Since then Russ & Daughters has been passed down through the generations and is currently run by the 4th generation of Russes.
Russ & Daughters featured in the 2008 documentary “The Jews of New York” as well as on the Martha Stewart Show, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, NPR, and Louie. Any restaurant that has managed to survive 100 years in one location and gets this much media attention must be great.
We walked into Russ & Daughters and immediately fell in love with the decor. Its interior is reminiscent of the 1930s complete with Art Deco touches; classy AF. However despite being a well traveled foodie, I never really feel comfortable in classy establishments. I guess deep down I am dive guy; no matter how many Michelin Star restaurants I try. The second I looked at the menu, I became confused why my friend would recommend Russ & Daughters to me. She knows that my blog was about budget travels and it was not cheap. Heck,, I am not sure if I belong at any place that serves caviar.
Menu Items here will run you anywhere from $8 for something simple like Rugelach or well into the $100s if you want some caviar. Given, my goal is to not go above $10 for breakfast it was going to be difficult.
Russ & Daughters Food
I ended up ordering the Potato Latkes with Applesauce & Sour Cream for $11
Stephanie ordered the Cinnamon Babka French Toast with Apple Compote, Candied Walnuts, and Creme Fraiche for $12.
My first instinct when I got my latkes was this is of a snack not a meal; I was skeptical. Luckily, they were extremely good. In my experience, simple dishes like potato pancakes can go horribly wrong pretty easily. I guess it is because everyone has had so many of these simple dishes that it is easy to become a critic. I inhaled my latkes. They perfectly cooked them; nice and crispy on the outside but not at all over done on the inside,. In my mind you can tell a chef knows what they are doing, when you never have to reach for the salt or pepper shaker during the meal. It shows that they understand the food and how to properly season it. This was one of those cases, the chef seasoned the latkes to perfection. The perfect potatoes combined with the sweetness of the apple sauce and the sour cream… fantastic, but I was still hungry.
“A meal without a sweet dish is like a story without a moral.” -Yiddish Idiom. This quote was written, in yiddish, on the menu at Russ & Daughters and is really is how stephanie lives her life. She loves a sweet dish. There was no way, with this motto in mind, that she wasn’t going to order something sweet. Her Cinnamon Babka French toast was scrumptious. She got lost in the ride that was cinnamon apple perfect, but it was a rather short ride. As you can see above, the french toast consisted of one measly thin slice of bread. For $12 it really should have been more. She too left still hungry.
In all our meal cost $23 dollars before taxes and tip, but this felt more like a light brunch rather than a full breakfast. We ended up heading over to Kossar’s shortly after
Russ & Daughters is a fantastic option for bunch in New York. With over 100 years of experience they have perfected their food, but the prices reflect that.