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Brooklyn Supper Club: Gina’s Cafe

Posted Jun 09 2010 5:00pm

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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…

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…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.

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

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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.

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