Biting Commentary in New York: New Russ and Daughters Cafe

The Ida platter: Scottish smoked salmon, gaspe nova smoked salmon, pastrami cured salmon, gravlox.

One of my absolute must-stops every time I come to New York: Russ and Daughters, the famed smoked fish shop, which celebrates its 100th birthday this year. Even though a year has passed since my last visit, I remember the faces behind the counter—who could forget, after all, the "Sherpa Lox" from "Katman-Jew" and the other friendly lox slicers?

Inside the Russ and Daughters Cafe (left) and the halvah ice cream with sesame and salted caramel.

So the only thing that trumps my excitement to return to Russ and Daughters is checking out the new Russ and Daughters cafe, which opened just this week. It's a bright white and clean space that keeps the nostalgic feel of the original Lower East Side shop with its light box shelves plus vinyl booths and gray marble tables.

It offers most of the same stuff as at the smoked fish counter, plated nicely—platters of smoked fish, bagel sandwiches and caviar with a few egg dishes. The real reason to come (at least for me) is to sit at the soda fountain counter and order drinks such as a cucumber-jasmine-fennel soda or a chocolate egg cream (chocolate, milk and seltzer). And, in addition to the more relaxed space (no more jostling for a bench on Houston Street!), there's dessert: halvah ice cream—made with an Eastern Mediterranean sesame confection—drizzled with salted caramel. So delicious.

For a quick Russ and Daughters fix or to bring smoked salmon to a lucky friend's house, there will always be the original location. But for a place to slow down and revel in the Russ and Daughters' tradition, I can't wait to make this my new regular spot when I visit New York.

Russ and Daughters Cafe, 127 Orchard St., New York,