When the weather is cold, what can be better than chowing down a big hearty plate of Russian inspired goulash or a glass of top notch imported vodka cocktail? The answer is when they go together! On a cold Melbourne evening not so long ago (just last week) that is becoming ever so familiar, Yuye and I ventured 20 or so kilometres away from home to dine at a warm and festive suburban eatery called Borsch Vodka and Tears. Just hearing its name was intriguing enough for a visit, let alone after reading raving reviews online.
It was a lonely and cold Tuesday night so when the waitress told us there was a full house apart from the 2 odd seats at the counter, we were pleasantly surprised. This was where all the cold people were hiding! We gladly took the last 2 seats which were literally next to the cash register and was where all the drinks were served. This meant I could gawk at the pretty bottles at the bar and take photos of all the fabulous drinks being served while not having to pay a cent (due to a thin wallet and not being able to drink them since I was driving) – what great value!
Ok so I took a few too many. But how cool were the apples on top of the hot tea as well as that folded napkin to keep from burning your hands? I would have ordered a glass of this (whatever it was) if I wasn’t already so full by the time I took the photo.
The restaurant was decked out in fancy decorations (or more like just where I was sitting) and I wasn’t a bit bored while we were waiting for our food and drinks. As you can see, this place had the nicest blue toned plates and tea cups that I was seriously considering buying some from them. Like every other time this has happened, I’ve always forgotten at the end of the meal from being too full and rolling out the door. By the time I remembered, we were already half way home.
As I read recommendations from other fellow diners on Urbanspoon that the potato blintzes were good, we decided to have this to share as a starter. The one we chose was the smoked salmon, sour cream and fresh herbs for $16. It really wasn’t as good as I thought it would taste. The blintzes (pancakes) were slightly bland even with the addition of the salmon and sour cream and was a tad one dimensional. Not the best dish of the night but not bad either.
What I did love about the dish was the large serving of smoked salmon and how beautifully plated they were. It looked like a orange rose about to bloom.
Another dish we ordered to share was an entree sized pierogi ($17) – Polish dumplings consisting of beef, chicken, herbs and spices with a paprika meat sauce. It was quite different to a Chinese or Japanese dumpling because the dough (skin) was very thick and the filling was heavy and very meaty. Yuye loved it and claimed it was his favourite dish of the night whereas I preferred the Asian styled variety. This dish came with 4 dumplings where the main size for $23.50 would have came with 8 (I believe). Trust me, it was a very filling dish despite what it looks like.
For our main (which was also shared) we ordered a goulash $26) which had char-grilled beef served with mashed potato, caramelised onion and red wine jus. This was my favourite dish of the night by far. It was very hearty (although not huge for the price). The beef was tender, perfectly seasoned and tasted a LOT like coriander which I absolutely adore. The mash was silky smooth and creamy while the beans were nice and al dente. It was a lovely dish.
The meal wouldn’t have been complete without ordering a vodka drink. The restaurant has countless varieties of vodkas, from house infused flavoured vodka shots to larger cups of vodka cocktails, take your pick. Or if you’re really confused because you’ve already had a bit too much imported beers to drink, you can opt for the tasting set which comes with 3 smaller shots of whatever flavours take your fancy for a price that I couldn’t remember (I’m just cool that way). I think it was roughly $12?
Yuye settled for the ‘wanted: hor hare’ for $19 which apparently won best cocktail in The Age in 2010. It contained horseradish vodka and honey vodka. It was a very clean and clear cocktail which was a bit too strong for me and I thought the flavours were very faint, although Yuye seemed to enjoy it a fair bit. I guess I’m just not a vodka lover.
We actually had enough belly space left to have a dessert and coffee to share. This rarely happens which is a good change. It was a good thing that we ordered 2 entrees instead of another main. The dessert we ordered was the gundel ($11.50) which were warm chocolate crepes adorned with hazelnuts and served with hazelnut ice cream. It was a rich and delectable dish, although if you’re not a huge fan of hazelnuts, this won’t be the dish for you. There were just SO many hazelnuts on top! I love hazelnuts so I didn’t mind.
The latte was average, strong enough to keep me satisfied but wasn’t a standout over other coffees around Melbourne. For one, there wasn’t as much froth on top which we both thought was a bit strange. The barista/waiter was a very friendly and chatty guy though which was nice. I realised as soon as I ordered the coffee that I should have gotten a cappuccino instead because they would have served it in a cute blue cup! Next time I’m in the neighbour maybe…or I should just buy a set from somewhere.
It also only cost $3 instead of the usual $3.50 for a coffee.
Borsch Vodka and Tears makes you feel welcomed and warm even on a freezing night out. A glass of their specialty vodkas to wash down a plate or 2 of their delicious Polish/Russian dishes is a perfect way to spend an evening while chatting to the bar staff and admiring their pretty blue crockery. On a busier night, reservations will be necessary to avoid disappointment or a long wait.
It is also conveniently located just 2 doors down from one of my favourite coffees joints in Melbourne – Dukes Coffee, so if you’re in the Chapel St neighbourhood during breakfast or lunch time and vodka seems a little too early for you, pop by Dukes Coffee for aromatic coffee and a delicious and refreshing meal instead.
Borsch Vodka & Tears
Phone: (03) 9530 2694
173 Chapel St, Prahran VIC 3181