I love so much about Russ & Daughters Cafe, starting with its charming atmosphere. Everything feels new and old at the same time; the clean and modern décor is accented with traditional diner details — a bar up front, booths in the back and jars of candies, dried fruit and other goodies from the original shop displayed throughout the restaurant. I particularly admire the menu’s beautifully eye-catching graphics and the whimsical bathroom wallpaper inspired by take-a-number tickets. The cafe is a feast for the eyes, as well as the taste buds.
Early mornings in the cafe are relaxing. Russ & Daughters opens for breakfast at 8 a.m., but the menu stays the same all day, so you’re covered whether you want to start your day with pickled herring or have eggs benny for dinner. I am totally enamored with the smoked whitefish chowder. The bowl is full of chunks of potato, vegetables and matzo, but the chowder itself is thin and aromatic, infused with the deep smoky flavor of the whitefish. It’s not overly filling the way thick chowder can be, leaving you room to enjoy other items on the menu like latkes, knishes and smoked fish platters. And you wouldn’t want to miss the chance to enjoy these delights in a nice sit-down environment — forget the lines a couple of blocks up on Houston Street.