June 9, 2010

Brooklyn Supper Club: Gina’s Cafe

For the most recent meeting of the Brooklyn Supper Club (am I the only nerd who calls us that, ladies?), Sarah, Vani, Olga and I went to Gina’s Cafe down at Brighton Beach.


That’s the south-est of south Brooklyn, for those of you foreigners. Actually, I’m sure even I’d be considered a foreigner in those parts, given that the natives are mostly Russian. To that end, Sarah, Vani and I were mighty glad to have Olga with us for translation purposes, as Gina’s Cafe is authentic Russian and Olga was able to explain the menu items better than the actual menu could.

With our private interpreter, we were able to select a handful of dishes to share, and every single one of them wowed me with its freshness and flavor.


I figure beets should be a staple of any Russian meal, at least for a gringo like me. The above-pictured dish is venigret, which is a salad of boiled beets, potatoes, carrots, peas, fresh dill, vinegar, oil and some spices (to quote my translator herself). Loved this!

Next up was the eggplant caviar. As soon as I saw the word “eggplant” on the menu (and squealed…maybe), I think my dining companions knew we wouldn’t get away with not ordering it.


This was another cold, vinegar-y dish, and it was delicious as well. I need to get busy recreating this at home. And no, no fish eggs were harmed in the making of this particular caviar.

By now, you’re surely wondering where all the sour cream is. And I don’t intend to disappoint. Bam!


Potato pancakes with sour cream. AKA the very essence of what I came for. Believe me, McDonald’s hash browns these are not. Thank God.

Other bites included vereniki (known as pierogies in Polish) filled with cherries…


…and knishes filled with cheese and topped with sesame seeds. They were more like puff pastry than the dense potato-y versions I’ve had elsewhere in NYC. Light and crispy and amazeballs.


The real standout of the meal, however, was the Juliene.


Translation: mushrooms baked in a year’s supply of cheese…and happiness and rainbows and flowers and unicorns. 

I feel like I should return the favor and escort my fellow supper clubbies through a meal of cuisine near and dear to my own upbringing, but I think we’d soon find that we all speak the universal language of pizza and ice cream.


Dori said...

Mushrooms and cheese!!!!! Need. Love. Omg.

melissa said...

so much fun! mouthwatering!

Anonymous said...

Ever so delicious! I need help with eggplant. I love them so but have murdered so many. All of that looks amazing, thank you for putting the names of the dishes!

Gena said...

I adore your outings!!

The eggplant caviar at the Russian Samovar in midtown is the best I've ever had. Get thee to it!

Fayinagirl (means Free One) said...

The glorious food of my childhood! Lucky you girl!!! =D

My father's family immigrated from the Czech republic. My pop used to make most of those dishes for us when we were young. Those were the days. ;-) Now I have food envy...again! LOL!

vanillavivante said...

I am so glad you have a love affair with eggplant because that caviar knocked my socks off . . . must recreate!!!

Jocelyn said...

mmmm all of that looks so delish..especially the eggplant dish! :)

Lele said...

Agh so jealous you had a translator. I feel like if you want really good ethnic food you have to go with someone who knows the language/culture/lingo.
I want to eat absolutely everything in this post. I can't even distinguish one. Just... all of that. I want.

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

My ancestry is russian and polish and i married a jew. so basically from pieroges to matzah balls, ive got the whole eastern euro thing going. this food looks exactly! like what my grandmother would cook when i was growing up. what an amazing experience to go with the nyc blogger clan AND the one girl speaks russian. score!!!!

girl, i dropped mad cash at BB& Beyond today. I read your comment and it's inevitable that moving into a new pad = bbb trip whether you want it or not.

MelissaNibbles said...

Holy crap. I want all this now. I would smother everything with sour cream and go to town!

Gina; The Candid RD said...

I'm going to pretend like this is MY cafe....seriously, I would love to open up a cafe like this called "Gina's Cafe"! It sounds like something I would open, and I'd love every minute of owning a place like that!