Several years ago, while scrolling through Instagram in search of inspiration for brunch, I stumbled upon Russ & Daughters on a friend’s feed. An ex-New Yorker and fellow foodie, she told me it was one of the city’s oldest and best bagel makers, and somewhere I absolutely must visit if ever I were in New York. Last month, I finally set foot in the Big Apple – my first time on American soil. Keen as always to immerse myself in the local culture, a bagel and coffee were on the menu for breakfast. Is this movie stereotype or true New York? Either way, it was the perfect start to fuel a full day of sightseeing.
The original Russ & Daughters is on Orchard Street, on the Lower East Side. But, taking advantage of the glorious blue sky, I fancied a morning walk in the world’s greatest park, so headed to their outlet at The Jewish Museum, located on the east side of Central Park. As the museum does not open until 11am, it was a puzzle to figure out how to get to the basement café – thankfully, a security officer came to my rescue after watching me circle the building several times, clearly perplexed.
Once inside, the scent of freshly baked bread guided me to my destination. Russ & Daughters makes a range of bagels, from a classic chewy white, to an everything bagel, crammed with grains and seeds. They also source smoked salmon from seas across the globe, including the popular Scottish variety. However, sticking to my New York theme, I chose the local gaspe nova, which I paired with all the usual suspects – a thick spread of full-fat cream cheese, juicy capers – not the small, overly salty and lacklustre ones you find on supermarket shelves, these were much bigger and packed with umami – and a crack of salt and pepper.
For a simpler affair, there’s butter, jam or a variety of flavoured cheeses, from spring onion to goat’s milk cream cheese, as well as a tofu version suitable for vegans.
The coffee here isn’t half bad either. Smooth, chocolatey and very drinkable to ease you into the morning.
Final word: Chewy, freshly baked bagels generously stuffed with premium fish and cream cheese – what more could you want from the famous New York bagel!?
The bagel: 10/10
Russ & Daughters
The Jewish Museum,
1109 5th Avenue,
T: +1 212-475-4880 ext. 3
Open 9:00 – 17:45 Sun – Tues; 9:00-20:00 Thurs; 9:00-16:00 Fri; closed Wed & Sat