Like I mentioned when I reviewed Russ and Daughters Café, Jewish food is having a moment right now. The line goes out the door for lox and I knew I would run into the same wait lines at Sadelle’s as I did at Russ and Daughters. My plan of attack was to let the fam sleep in for an extra hour while I headed to SoHo to put our name on the list. Since they leave some space for walk-ins, this worked perfectly and we were sitting down by noon.
Bagels and cream cheese is the center of attention at both Russ and Daughters and Sadelle’s; however, their approach is as different as their locations. Russ and Daughters Café embodies all the old school elements of their Lower East Side locale, with their luncheonette counters and diner booths. Conversely, Sadelle’s has all the high ceilings, massive floral arrangements, and [displayed] crystal serving bowls befitting their SoHo space. Both restaurants have serious caviar, for those with deep pockets.
While Jewish noshing has never felt like a fancy sport, Sadelle’s is determined to elevate it. You’re eating off china, and the food arrives on glorious towers. The eggs are fine, but I recommend going with the bagels. The bagels themselves are ok (the salt and pepper flavor was my personal fave), but the toppings are amazing. The smoked salmon is drizzled with oil that really allows the flavor from the dill garnish to sink in. It was so delicate that even I – someone who is not too keen on lox – had two servings. The whitefish was very good and the egg salad was so unbelievably creamy. All the bagels come with the necessary accouterments – cucumber, tomato, onion, and capers. The tomatoes were perfect, every single slice. The food doesn’t come cheap, but the waiters are attentive and will offer frequent refills. If you’re not ordering one of these towers at Sadelle’s, don’t even bother going. Seriously; you’ve missed the whole point.
Also make sure you don’t leave without getting the babka. I’ve had babka only once before and thought it was a dry, boring, chocolate coffee cake. Not my thing. But this was totally different and ruined me for babka forever because it was absolutely perfect. I don’t think I know any old Jewish grandmothers who could make it any better.