If ever you can learn about a restaurant from it's name, than the Borsch, Vodka and Tears Cafe/Bar/Restaurant in Chapel Street is a classic example. The name was devised by the owners when the restaurant opened ten years ago, as they sat around drinking the first shipment of wine they had ordered for their new venture.
Borscht" is a Polish beetroot soup, which owner Andrew explains is excellent for a hangover. No doubt exactly what they needed after consuming all that wine."Vodka" represents the distinguishing feature of this restaurant - the over 100 different varieties of vodka on offer, either as shots, cocktails or ingredients in your meal. Finally "Tears" because after drinking a lot of vodka, apparently a person often feels melancholy, especially when they are 20,000 kilometres away from their homeland.
Whether it is the decor inside the restaurant (one of my dinner companions described it as "Polish chic"), the ambient lighting, the array of vodka on display or simply the vodka cocktails we consumed, we felt like we were transported into a European cafe.
Chapel Street seemed a world away and even the steady noise of traffic was drowned out by the (somewhat interesting choice) of Frank Sinatra background music and frequent loud bursts of laughter from other patrons.
We visited on a Monday night and our waitress described the night as "slow". To my untrained eye the restaurant seemed full. The service however was slow - my friend waited over half an hour for her first cocktail to arrive.
My favourite cocktail of the night was the 'Chocolate Martini' I had for dessert. Sadly, as it was a school night, I limited myself to two cocktails. To really do the drinks menu justice (and the drinks menu is after all the highlight of the restaurant) I recommend a weekend visit and a cab ride home.
We ate a mixture of tapas meals (saganaki, lamb stew, squid, prawns, stroganoff and dumplings) and main meals (goulash). The tapas serves were large, however some were disappointing, as they were either dry or not as flavoursome as expected.
What the food may have lacked though is more than made up for in both the restaurant's atmosphere, and the drinks menu.
Two cocktails tried, 64 to go. Then there's the shots. I'll be going back again soon.