If you’re observant, you can now enjoy your favorite New York meal at Russ & Daughters’ recently opened kosher restaurant at The Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side—on Shabbat.
Starting on Saturday, Jan. 28, the popular appetizing purveyor with three locations in New York City will serve a set family-style brunch menu of cold dishes―think deviled eggs topped with wild Alaskan salmon roe, classic smorgasbords of smoked, baked, and pickled fishes, and teeming baskets of house-made bread—that customers can pay for online in advance of the Sabbath. It’s not inexpensive: Orders cost $50 per person, including gratuity, and must be placed by 3 p.m. on Friday. An optional beverage menu of brunch cocktails, wine, and beer (two drinks per person) is also available at $26 a head. Kiddush provisions (challah, wine or grape juice) are, of course, part and parcel.
Niki Russ Federman, a fourth-generation co-owner of the family business, said that the Saturday menu has been in the works for a few months. “We’ve always wanted to do it,” she said. “But we’re still in our infancy [at the Jewish Museum], so we wanted to get everything running smoothly with the normal week. Once that started to happen, we looked at how we could be open on Saturdays [and] we looked at how halakhic issues could be resolved.”
Given that the Jewish Museum already offers free admission (and operates Sabbath elevators) on Saturdays, pairing a museum visit with a meal seems like a natural fit. The majority of the museum’s galleries are also Shabbat-friendly, said Director of Communications Anne Scher, since audiovisual components remain on continually. One exhibition, “Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design,” features a virtual-reality component that observant visitors can opt to skip. Russ & Daughters consulted Jewish Theological Seminary and Rabbi Aaron Mehlman of National Kosher Supervision to ensure the Saturday experience passes halakhic muster.
Since guests can make reservations for up to eight people (or more if they book multiple tables or the private dining room, which can accommodate parties larger than 12), Russ Federman said she envisions family reunions and other special celebrations taking place at the museum. She also recognizes the convenience factor of being able to prepay for a meal on a day when a gastronomical outing often comes at the cost of an astronomically long wait.
Saturday, according to Scher, is the Jewish Museum’s busiest day of the week for visitation.
“People are primarily coming for the exhibitions,” she said. “Now there’ll be an added reason to come. Some people may come for both, and some people may just come for Russ & Daughters.”
“Reservations,” said Russ Federman, “are streaming in.”