Warning: this review contains a high alcohol content and is likely flammable. Oy vey, the borsch, the vodka and the crying. Polish fare doesn’t advertise as well as it should. There are the stews, the potatoes, the vodka, the vodka. The vodka. You won’t be attending for the food or the service and nor should you. A large seating must be booked in advance and on a Saturday night even if wearing Christmas baubles, lighting and nipple tassels, you’ll be hard pressed to get much attention from the staff. (Please note, that I would never wear such an outfit. Not altogether anyway...)
But BVT is about the atmosphere, the company and the overall (vodka) experience. Yes, we needed to wade through Polish borsch to find our own menus and yes, we may have practically poured the vodka (the czekoladowa afrykańska described as mum’s chocolate pudding) ourselves, but BVT has a sense of humour. With items on the menu like riga black balsam described as “the most horrible tasting vodka we’ve tried”, you know that this place is just a bit cool. This well established Melbourne venue shouldering Lucky Coq, and what a lucky coq indeed, is always busy, never dull and absolutely fun.
As a group we ordered two plates of the antipasto: assorted cold meat, cheese and pickled anything and everything. Speaking of everything, everything that arrives reflects a home style cooking. If you didn’t realise you were on Chapel St, you could imagine a Polish babcia (i.e. grandmother, that’s right, I can use Google) in the depths of the kitchen churning out these Polish (and not so Polish) delicacies. As mentioned, you’re not here for the breakout dishes, they are comforting and hearty but won’t be dancing on your tongue in revelry. The honey vodka prawns are quality, the salt & pepper squid are less salt & pepper than they are just squid. Though, the saganaki is just a bit good and so is the panfried uszka (polish dumplings). The food is just a sideshow, the main event is the vodka. The menu is striking, entertaining and lengthy and you won’t be disappointed. Infused with everything you can imagine, you will feel rather infused yourself gracelessly stepping out onto Chapel in a stupor. Your vision may be distorted, much like my photography.
Onwards, to AFTER THE TEARS, BVT’s sister restaurant in Elsternwick. Wouldn’t you like to say you’ve done both Polish sisters? And in a less frenetic location, you could even leave the nipple tassels at home. But why would you ...?!
Borsch Vodka & Tears
173 Chapel Street
WINDSOR VIC 3181
(03) 9530 2694