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Beets and goat cheese as a combination may be lowbrow-despicable, joining meatballs and anything with truffle oil as over-the-hill, oversaturated, and oft-mocked menu items. However, beets aren’t leaving the table anytime soon; in fact, it’s tempting to say they’re making a comeback. Fortunately, without their tangy cheese counterpart.
With the strong surge of Eastern European-inflected restaurants, borscht has become a stalwart of this not-so-cold winter. The new Veselka Bowery serves a golden-beet version, while Brooklyn’s hottest Montreal import, Mile End, dishes out a more traditional take. Lower East Side favorite Yonah Schimmel’s Knishes gets props for its borscht — cold and creamy, it’s served in a plastic cup with brunoised beet pieces to chomp on as it slides down the throat. However, it’s also now possible to get your borscht fix without going the soup route.
Head to Karloff, a coffee-shop-cum-eatery in Cobble Hill that serves fare like pierogies and potato pancakes. There, you’ll find a full ice-cream freezer filled with funky flavors, including one bright-pink option, the beet-and-dill. Yes, it may sound weird, until you spoon some of the supremely creamy concoction and find that it’s no odder than your standard strawberry. With a slight bite and fruity flavor, its satisfyingly savory-sweet and an all-around awesome way to get your borscht on.
If you happen to catch Pie Corps at a seasonal market, like South Street Seaport’s New Amsterdam, you may be graced with the opportunity to try their hand pies. The beet-horseradish is a perfect vegetarian option that’s also hefty enough to please a meat lover. Flaky pastry is wrapped around a minced beet filling; each bite is sparked with a perfect horseradish undertone.
You’ll have to dish out the big bucks to get your hands on Eleven Madison Park’s borscht gelée. The wiggly purple gel is joined by Big Bird-yellow chopped egg yolk, rye, and caviar. It’s a haute take on a peasant dish.