Not too long ago I went on a nice long walk along Chapel Street with a friend and we stumbled upon Borsch, Vodka and Tears. If you’ve ever chuckled at the infamous blackboard sign floating around on social media that says ‘Soup of the day: Vodka’, you’ve come across Borsch, Vodka and Tears. We didn’t eat there on that day, but we decided we must come back for dinner later on. What a good decision that was.
It’s a small place and it is definitely cosy, with a Bohemian style interior, warm mood lighting, beautiful crockery and lovely staff. I would say that the food is great but the ambience is even better. There’s a nice bar with the most impressive vodka collection I’ve ever seen…although I haven’t seen that many, haha. Basically, it is a vodka connoisseur’s dream, with bottles imported directly from their countries of origin and a long cocktail menu that utilises almost 100 of their different vodkas. We ordered the iced version of a cocktail called Pleasant St Tea – Turkish apple tea, pomegranate molasses and Medos honey vodka, served hot or cold. It was a good choice. The flavours of the apple and the tea were very much there, not hidden under the taste of strong alcohol. It had a clever apple garnish on top as well. I’ll be trying to make this at home for sure.
In terms of food, Borsch, Vodka & Tears specialises in Central European cuisine, with Polish, Hungarian and Russian dishes on the menu (among others). Unless I’ve had this cuisine before without realising it, I think I was trying it for the first time. As such, we chose some of the ‘safer’ dishes on the menu. This was no mistake, everything was really nice, but I might visit again and see if there are some super traditional dishes I can try. We ordered a few small dishes to share:
Hugarian Lamb Ragout – Slow cooked lamb, peppers, tomatoes, sour cream and rye bread. The lamb was tender but still meaty and substantial.
Kopytka – Pan fried gnocchi-style dish, 5 mushroom ragout, truffle oil and spinach. The gnocchi was perfect and the truffle oil made it sing!
Pierogi (Polish dumplings) – Beef, chicken, herbs, spices and bacon, fried onion and raspberry vinegar & cheese, potato, fried onion, sour cream, mint. Both types of dumplings were tasty, but the meat ones were a little better, as they were more flavoursome.
Polish cheesecake – rhubarb, raspberry. I had hoped there would be something unique about a ‘Polish’ cheesecake but it didn’t seem different from a regular cheesecake. It was nice and smooth, but pretty standard.
Apologies for the inconsistent and extremely average photography, I promise I’ll get a proper camera soon.
The lamb was tender and the dumplings were yummy, but the gnocchi was the highlight of the night. There’s something about gnocchi…it’s just so satisfying! Ordering gnocchi or variations of it can go horribly wrong, especially when what you get is heavy, pasty and chewy. This was just right, it was light and had a nice flavour from being pan fried before adding the mushrooms. And of course, there was truffle oil. Truffle oil tastes amazing, it has a very distinctive, earthy flavour and can be added to so many dishes but works especially well with mushrooms. It’s one of those duos that belong together, like Bonnie and Clyde, Adam and Eve, Bert and Ernie…
Borsch, Vodka and Tears is perfect for a relaxed night out, good food and sampling some quality alcoholic beverages. Make sure you call up and book as it’s a very busy place and you don’t want to miss out!
173 Chapel St Windsor