We were even more impressed with Russ and Daughters Cafe on this visit. As part of the Stone Series Music Series, Bill Frisell was scheduled to play, and we made reservations well in advance. Emily, the General Manager, emailed my husband to ask if we wanted to be close to the music or in the back, where it was quieter. She gave us the perfect seats – close, but out of the way of the crowd. The bartenders were lovely also. Since the musicians performed in the bar section, the staff waited for breaks to add ice to the shaker for mixed drinks, gently lifted the wine from the ice bath, and tenderly placed each dish on the counter to avoid disturbing the music.
Kudos to the restaurant for sponsoring this series. A popular venue, yet management allowed people to stand and enjoy the show with minimal (or any) purchases. The concerts demonstrate a real commitment from the restaurant to the community.
Russ and Daughters Cafe specializes in smoked fish, putting its unique spin into dishes like Pastrami Russ, a pastrami-cured salmon sandwich similar to a Reuben. The Chopped Liver with matzo escorted me back to my childhood days helping my mom prepare the communion “crackers” at our small town church and sneaking a couple for a snack. The fennel, dill, and capers added character to the Mixed Green salad. We finished off the meal with the Russ & Daughters Knishes – light, fluffy, with a hint of sharp mustard.
Our beverage choices included the Lower East Side, a fragrant gin cocktail with lime, dill, and cucumber. Derek couldn’t resist the Smoked Martini, gin-based, with the smokiness coming from a rinse of Laphroaig. It’s always nice to see more savory beverages. The Daniel Dampt & Fils Chablis was a bargain at $56 a bottle.
It was one of those crazy hot Manhattan Summer nights, so I ended up having to hack a pen into a hair accessory to beat the heat. All in all, it was a delightful evening of food, drinks, and music.