Borsch Vodka & Tears. Certainly no tears from us, but there certainly is vodka a plenty on the menu and Dad’s favourite Polish soup, Borsh. “Nana used to make Borsch all the time when i was growing up,” he says proudly. He actually says this every single time we go for Polish food. He’s a bit like that, you never really know whether he’s just vague or thinks you are, but he tells the same stories over and over.
Borsch Vodka Tears takes pride of place in the epicentre of Melbourne places-to-be, Chapel St. It’s small and authentic. The tables are close together and you feel like you should probably say hello to your dining neighbours because you’ll probably elbow them at least 3 times throughout the night.
The music is a mix of old school classics and Polish jazz, the lighting is dim and the drinks menu is extensive. Be sure to try a few of the infused vodkas on offer. I tried too many one night. Don’t do that.
The food here is classic and if you’ve never eaten Polish food before, you’re in for a treat. It’s pretty unique. You know how we grow up eating sausages on the barbie, so when we eat Bratwurst from Germany we kind of get it. Or how we all love a good pasta, especially when we’re broke and there’s nothing else in the pantry, so we understand Italian cuisine. Polish is just weird.
We started with Borsch with Pierogi as well as Potato Blintzes with smoked salmon, sour cream and dill. SO good. It was probably enough food but that wouldn’t stop me ordering Pork Loin Schnitzel with its traditional accompaniment of red cabbage. Dad couldn’t go past the Goulash (also famously cooked by Nana, can you believe?) which did look seriously good. They’re big hearty meals; it’s a wonder Polish people are so thin. Maybe’s it’s the vodka… I should drink more.
By the end of the meal we were seriously full, but it’s a happy, home-style-cooked kind of full and can easily be forgiven. You really do feel like you’ve walked into your local from the cobblestoned streets of Lublin. Then you walk outside and bump into a homeless man drinking rum, a 14 year old wearing a bow tie and carrying a skateboard and an 18 year old getting into his Porsche Cayenne and you remember you’re in South Yarra.
Borsch Vodka Tears
173 Chapel St Windsor VIC 3181
(03) 9530 2694
See the menu and more here