173 Chapel St
Windsor, VIC 3181
I don’t like Prahran. You think it’s hard to find parking in Fitzroy? Wait until you try this end of town. So it’s double the shame that there’s so much good eating around there. Food always, always wins out however, which I how I found myself spending 20 minutes trawling the streets for parking, just so I could eat at Borsch, Vodka, and Tears.
‘It’s expensive!’ Texted Chris as I walked the 800m from my car to the restaurant. I had a minor panic that went something like ‘oh good lord they must’ve not updated their website since1997 and now I have to decide between dinner and being able to afford a mortgage’, before Chris clarified that he was only referring to how the wine vodka bar looked. Hazy and oh-so-romantic, you’ll find faded hand-painted posters, lamps entangled in rose vines, and furniture buffed to a shine with years of love. This is definitely not the kind of place you’d expect to find on the streets of Prahran, down the road from a place called Massive Wieners.
I’ve heard of Borsch, Vodka, and Tears before, of course I have. But I’ve never paid it much attention until it showed up on Georgie-Porgie’s best-of-Melbourne list. Or as Zomato has sveltely named it, The GC Collection. And although I have long since gotten used to the hefty wine tomes found in Melbourne, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the selection on offer. So heavy that it bent my wrist back when I went to pick it up, the volume promised vodka galore – clear rye, lightly infused, honey and spice, oak-matured, herbal – as well as cocktails and wines for the less dedicated. Naked for Satan, eat your heart out!
It’s no surprise that a lot of what’s on offer is essentially a Northern-European version of pub food. Except I would rather have the Pierogi ($18, 4pcs) over fish and chips any day. The crescent-shaped dumplings were wrapped around a moreish mix of herbed beef and chicken, before being fried and topped with an intoxicating combination of fried onions and bacon bits.
I felt a little guilty coming to Borsch, Vodka, and Tears and ordering neither their namesake beverage nor soup, but the Farmer’s Zakuski ($27.5) looked too amazing to ignore. Piled high with goodies and a side of rye bread, this is a great way to try a few extra things without inviting a crowd.
There were cured meats galore, from thinly shaved eye fillet cured in vodka, to waxy slices of schinkenspeck. To go with that were piles of generously dressed salads and nippy pickles, with the crowning achievement being a tottering scoop of creamy Russian potato salad. It didn’t take long for everything on the plate to be mixed through with frothy whipped feta and fresh dill, ready to be spread onto fresh rye.
There is so much to love about Borsch, Vodka, and Tears, and I didn’t even try the alcohol. There isn’t much that’s more seductive than the whiff of glamour and debauchery, and the suggestion of a night drenched in vodka and Northern-European cooking. It may have been a school night when I visited, but the next time will be on a weekend with a designated driver.
Rating: 14/20 – pierogi, water, and smiles.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.