Borsch, Vodka and Tears, St Kilda

You know there’s some serious shit going down when there is an establishment with a vodka menu that is almost seven pages long on double-sides. Who knew the world of vodka could be that extensive?! If you’re a vodka aficionado, you couldn’t have fallen into a better place than Borsch, Vodka and Tears.

Borsch, Vodka and Tears

Borsch, Vodka and Tears

All the credit has to go to my colleague L (no relation to the anime character from Death Note), who as a Melbourne local has a thing for the down, dirty and simply amazing. Walking into Borsch, Vodka and Tears, I fell in love. I loved the dark wood panelling. I loved the kitsch charm of the ornaments. I loved the old world café style tables and chairs. Heck, I loved it all.

L pitched Borsch, Vodka and Tears as a place for Eastern European cuisine that wouldn’t look too out of place in a Cold War period film. And I, having never travelled to Eastern Europe nor had the pleasure of experiencing many Eastern European eateries (hear that, Brisbane? Huge foodie opportunity here) was stumped by the menu. It’s not often anything in a menu looks Greek to me, so I was happy to hand over the reins to L to recommend our dinner.

Borsch, Vodka and Tears

Farmer’s zakuski. AUD$26


L did exceptionally well with ordering two tasting platters to allow us the opportunity to sample a variety of preparations from the antipasto section, called ‘zakuski’. I would later learn ‘zakuski’ is a Russian term for hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, snacks, appetizers. These are served before the main course, but seeing as we only had the zakuski, you have a fair idea how generous the portions were.

Our first was the farmer’s zakuski. The dinner plate was laden with duck rillettes, gypsy ham, csabai, kransky, truffled mushrooms, roasted beetroots, dill pickles, marinated feta, remoulade and a generous mound of Russian salad of potatoes and mayonnaise served as the centre piece. My favourite elements were the plump juicy kransky and creamy soft feta.

Borsch, Vodka and Tears

Baltic Sea zakuski. AUD$26


Borsch, Vodka and Tears

That same mound of Russian salad would make a repeat appearance in the Baltic Sea zakuski, except this time there was a fat rollmop (pickled herring fillet), soused herring, smoked trout, salmon roe, pickles, soft boiled egg, truffled mushrooms, roasted beetroots, remoulade, beet horse (I had an unfortunate ‘accident’ with an overzealous forkful of the stuff) and rye bread.

Topping the entire platter with crisp fried whiting, one of the highlights of the dish. Quite honestly, I would opt for whiting over hot chips or wedges any day of the week, and these babies were – and there are no other words to describe it – fluffy on the inside and so addictive.

Did we have any vodka? Sadly, no. Not with the baby on bub and a full day of work ahead of us.


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