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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Russ and Daughters Cafe and the Tompkins Square Greenmarket

Tompkins Square Greenmarket
Nothing like a leisurely stroll on a Sunday morning at the market. Although most of the city farmer's markets are insanely crowded on weekends, the East Village market has a much more laid-back vibe. It's a small setup with lots of produce and bread, a few neighborhood activists, and some free samples. We tried a grilled turkey slider on a brioche roll, some fresh Roma tomatoes, and some unfortunately slightly mealy apples. The organic produce stands were overflowing with lettuces, herbs, and root veggies. We also picked up eggs and berries. I never eat supermarket strawberries because they are hard, dry, and tasteless. Remember when strawberries used to be delicate?


Russ & Daughters Cafe
I was so very excited to try this new restaurant. My family has always shopped at Russ & Daughters. It's been around for over 100 years! They sell all the classic smoked fish I dream about: sturgeon, sable, white fish, and all kinds of different flavored smoked salmon. The shop also features bagels and bialys (the best I have ever had), dried fruit, halvah, and amazing babka, chocolate and sweets. So when I heard they were opening a sit-down restaurant I could not wait to give it a go.

The cafe and menu design are nothing short of brilliant. They basically paid homage to the existing style of the store with the same type of signage, but gave it clean, updated feel so it has this old-school / new-school feel. Modern presentation meets Jewish comfort foods. In both the store and the restaurant, servers wear the traditional white, button-down, lab-type coats. The room is elegant and clean and is enhanced by beautiful and soft reflective up-lighting. Even the bathroom brought a smile to my face because the walls are lined with a custom wallpaper where the design is made of the numbered paper pull tickets you have to take at the store if you ever expect to get served. You can a listen to this podcast from the Heritage Radio Network to learn more about the redesign, or check designer Kelli Anderson's blog about it.

The Herring appetizer was served on a long wood board with a sort of sushi presentation but instead of rice the herring rested on a small rectangle of black bread. I must go back at least 3 more times because there were so many items on the menu I need to try. Everything was excellent but I must say the petite potato knishes brought a tear to my eyes they were so yummy.



monica said...

I showed Mother of Rula the menu online this weekend! She shared stories of the old days, shopping at R&D, but said she'd rather get the stuff at the shop and eat at home. Also the time they packed up a big order to take down to Florida, but left it at the house.

Bram told her "Next year, at Russ & Daughters!" Now I want pickled herring. :)

Stacy said...

next trip back will be brunch.Can't wait to have lox and eggs or maybe Matzoh brie