Borsch, Vodka & Tears

Wednesday night is the night if you’ve decided you want a full-blown taste of Poland: Polish blintzes, dumplings, vodka flowing and live music.  As soon as you step foot inside this restaurant you’re in another world: dark and moody (like a good rye bread) and brimming with the smells of freshly cooked comfort food, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d just stepped out of a snowy Krakow streetscape and into the bowels of a warm, cozy den where the food is served by your Babushka…

This is one of my favourite restaurants in Melbourne. It’s not a cheap night out (especially when you have a voracious appetite for all things Eastern European, most notably the vodka) but you can reasonably expect to walk out of here absolutely stuffed to the gunnels. And that’s precisely what your Babushka wants. (I know fattening me up is one of the key goals of mine).

The first step is to order yourself a good serving of Vodka (this in itself is hard, the vodka menu is the size of a tome and makes your eyes glaze before the first drop even hits your lips). The honey-infused variety is a favourite, as well as ‘The Chosen One’ and ‘goldwasser’. Slip it down quickly and get yourself a cocktail – a simple Moscow Mule will tide you through to the main courses without worry.

As for the food, you can’t go wrong with ordering an antipasto platter to share (to start) which is spilling over with ham, kransky saussage, Russian potato salad (that delicious one with mayo and bits of pickle – amazing) roast capsicum, beetroot, dill cucumbers and rye bread ($17.50)

Other recommendations include the saganaki, the gołąbki (cabbage leaf stuffed with rice, veal and vegetables – above), lamb croquettes and the Russian style chicken stroganoff. But the winner of all of this is the Blintzes. They’re absolute heaven on a fork, with smoked salmon, sour cream and fresh herbs ($16)

And the croquettes –

I’ve had the borscht here before – despite being fresh and delicious, I’ve noted a couple of times that instead of being hot, it’s more like lukewarm. What you want to get is the pierogi – they’re definitely different from the dumplings that my Russian grandmother so lovingly makes, but they’re still delicious. They come in 3 varieties: beef&chicken, mushroom&saurkraut or cheese&potato. I can personally vouch that all of these are the height of deliciousness; they’re hot, juicy and full of flavour.

Now, for the entertainment: every Wednesday night a pair of very talented sisters frock up and play accordian and violin, filling the restaurant with merriment (if it wasn’t already).

The only sad thing about BV&T is that the service is a little slow. On a busy night you might sometimes be left wondering where the rest of your mains have disappeared to, or be waiting a while on a much needed vodka. The place has everything else in spades, it would be a shame to forego your trip here because of this.

Borsch, Vodka & Tears on Urbanspoon

Ambience: 10/10
Service: 5/10
Food: 9.5/10
Value for money: 9/10
Score (food is weighted double): 86%

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