It took Joel Russ ten days to travel from Germany to Ellis Island by boat in 1907, and that was the easy part. The 22-year-old Russ had arrived in America to help support his older sister's family, which he began doing by selling strings of Polish mushrooms, carrying them on his shoulders until he had saved up enough money for a pushcart. Next, he upgraded to a horse and wagon, and by 1914, he had enough funds to open a store. Dubbed "Russ's Cut Rate Appetizers", the store specialized in selling the cold appetizers known in Yiddish as "forshpayz": among them salt-cured salmon and herring. In 1920, he moved to East Houston Street, where the shop still stands today. During this period, he also became the father of three daughters who began working in the shop after school and on weekends, and in 1933, the store was renamed Russ & Daughters––widely regarded as the first business to ever use "& Daughters" in its name. Nearly 100 years later, the shop is owned and staffed by fourth-generation Russ family members, and has been recognized by The Smithsonian Institute as "a part of New York's cultural heritage". One of the last traditional appetizing stores on the Lower East Side, the business is considered by most to be much more than a beloved grocery: it's a preserver of the culture of the city's Eastern European Jewish Immigrants. Smoked and cured salmon is still sliced by hand, while bagels are rolled by hand and baked in an old-fashioned revolving oven. When ¬New York Magazine asked world-traveling chef Anthony Bourdain to name the best meal he's ever eaten in New York, the Travel Channel host said simply, "bagel, nova, cream cheese at Russ & Daughters. Not just the best, but 'ours'." Beyond the traditional bagel toppers, today's customers find gourmet delights such as cinnamon or chocolate babka, homemade chopped herring salad with granny smith apples, and handmade macaroons dipped in dark chocolate. Russian-style blini's make the perfect vessel for any of Russ & Daughter's high grade, hand-packed caviars, which are still sourced the old-fashioned way: by waiting patiently next to the fish's nests.
Dancers in shimmering gowns and tutus, tall hats, and sweeping silks—many crafted by costume designers at St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre—leap, sway, and spin in front of dinner guests. They flow through choreography set to Top 40 hits, contemporary international pop, and Russian classical music, filling a Broadway-sized stage with movements that glow and cast dramatic shadows. Though the show changes frequently, it currently packs in its most popular dances from its 20-year run as a moving homage to what Rasputin Supper Club and Cabaret has been treating its patrons to throughout its history: a taste of royalty.
That doesn't stop at the edge of the stage. While the dancers frolic under a 15-foot projection screen, guests sit back under 30-foot ceilings at the center of a palatial, double-tiered club with an interior designed to reflect the opulence of the old Russian monarchies. On chairs draped in shimmering crimson, guests cluster around gold-clothed tables spread out across hardwood floors. Gilt railings and gates separate the public from performers and private diners, and columns glowing with blue and amber lights scare off swarms of lost noblemen. During meals, the space fills with aromas from the contemporary French and aristocratic Russian dishes that occupy a collection of menus. Often using local ingredients, chefs craft frequently changing dishes such as smoked-salmon rolls, pheasant julien, roasted potatoes and mushrooms, and linguine with red caviar, leaving guests in a state of supreme relaxation while the regal dining area continues to excite.
Students often give their favorite teacher apples. Melissa Chmelar, however, gave hers homemade syrups and jams. That’s because Melissa's mother frequently took the family on syrup-making excursions, teaching them how to tap trees and boil sap into homemade batches that could compliment country-style spreads. Today, Melissa carries on her mother’s DIY attitude and passion for handcrafted foods as an adult. She even sells her own syrups and jams through the online shop portion of her culinary operation, Spoon.
Melissa doesn’t just sell her food, though—she also caters it throughout the city. With an arsenal of homemade goodies, organic produce grown in upstate New York, and local meat and seafood, she crafts delicious smorgasbords for dinner gatherings, cocktail parties, and special events. Along with baking muffins and breads, she rustles up upscale dishes such as pan-seared salmon with parsley pesto, earning herself coverage in a slew of major publications, including the New York Times, People Magazine, and Metro New York.
Melissa uses the same farm-fresh ingredients at Tbsp, the storefront portion of Spoon. There, she serves visiting patrons everything from from-scratch soups to grass-fed beef burgers flavored with house seasonings. For dessert, Melissa bakes and serves house-made chocolate chip cookies in skillets, topping them off with scoops of vanilla ice cream.
A stay at Clarion Hotel Park Avenue places you in the heart of New York, minutes from Madison Square Park and close to Empire State Building. This hotel is close to Chrysler Building and Times Square.
Make yourself at home in one of the 60 air-conditioned guestrooms. Cable television is provided for your entertainment. Bathrooms have complimentary toiletries and hair dryers. Conveniences include safes and complimentary newspapers, as well as multi-line phones with voice mail.
Rec, Spa, Premium Amenities
Make use of convenient amenities such as concierge services, a fireplace in the lobby, and discounted use of a nearby fitness facility.
A complimentary breakfast is included.
Business, Other Amenities
Featured amenities include complimentary newspapers in the lobby, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a 24-hour front desk. Limited parking (subject to charges) is available onsite.
Cheesecake versus brownies. It’s a storied rivalry that until 1924 had no clear winner. But rather than indulging this age-old debate, enterprising baker Mario D’Aiuto combined the two in his signature Baby Watson cheesecake, a brownie cheesecake that put the discussion to rest once and for all.
Thus began New York New York Cheesecake, which, 88 years later, continues to produce these sweet treats alongside other baked goodies including pies, cakes, and cookies. The bakers still pull plain cheesecake and cherry cheesecake out of the oven, but they also get a little more creative. Their cheesecake carrot cake blends the richness of cheesecake with the classic Bugs Bunny flavor of carrot. And their layer cakes also rise to the challenge, as evidenced by 10 inches of tiramisu fashioned with tuscan sponge, mascarpone cheese, and flavored liquor, dusted with cinnamon, and surrounded by a ring of ladyfingers.
Inside the kitchen of TriniSoul, students get the opportunity to face down the scotch bonnet—a lantern-shaped pepper that smolders with 50 times more heat than a jalapeño. The heavy-duty pepper is just one of the extraordinary ingredients introduced to students by Chef D, a Caribbean native who holds court during cooking classes that center around the recipes she grew up enjoying. Her foray into culinary instruction started as a few simple classes on the cuisine of Trinidad and Tobago, but her teaching style developed a rabid following, and Chef D's curriculum has grown to cover many types of Caribbean cuisine as well as American-style soul fare. More than 6,000 students have enrolled in Chef D's classes, which can accommodate groups of up to 24 in TriniSoul's kitchen as well as private instruction in one's own kitchen or properly equipped subway car.