The search for the perfect lunch spot continued today with a visit to the Russian Café & Deli. At the same location since 1987, the Deli is a family owned and operated business that has a deli on one side of the store, and a small café on the other. A large and colorful picture of the Kremlin sits proudly above the cash register station.
The deli side is filled with all manner of Russian and Eastern European foods. There is a cold case filled with processed meats (much of it from NYC) and there is a freezer filled with homemade Piroski and Perogi. There are also canned goods as well as beers and liquors.
The café side serves both lunch and dinner. The lunch menu is small, but full of authentic Russian food. There are Blintzes (think: Russian burrito), Piroski (a pastry made with flour, cream cheese and butter, which is then stuffed with a savory meat filling), Solyanka Sbornaya Soup (sausages, olives, pickles and barley), Buckwheat Kasha, Beef Stroganoff, Pelmeny (a boiled stuffed pastry) Vareniki (semi-circular stuffed dumplings), and a few other things.
There were three of us here for lunch and we ordered, Borsht, Golubtsy, and Sazivi. (Surprise! I left some things out of the list).
The Borsht was cabbage and beets in a tasty broth made from beef broth and tomato paste. It had pleasant overtones of vinegar and pepper. A large dollop of sour cream adorned the center of the serving. The bowl was large and this borsht was sufficient for lunch all by itself. $4.95.
Golubtsy, as the menu informs us is Cabbage rolls stuffed with beef and rice. Baked in sour cream with tomato paste, herbs, and spices. Served with rice, pickles and sour cream. This also was a good dish. There was plenty of rice (a short grained but thick variety which Ive never seen before) and the Golubsty was well spiced and juicy. $6.95
The final dish sampled was Sazivi, described as small pieces of boneless chicken cooked with lots of garlic, walnuts, and cilantro. Served with rice baked with vegetables or young potatoes and fresh dill. A lot of garlic is right! Just the right amount as far as I am concerned. The chicken was covered in a dry sauce made from the other ingredients, and at first bite, it tasted like a Russian chicken curry. However, after thinking about it for a bit, I realized this was Russian Pesto! The cilantro, walnuts and garlic had been ground into a paste which made the sauce. It was served hot with rice, and was exceedingly good. $7.50
This is Real Russian Food. The colder, more windy and darker it gets, the better this food tastes. This is the kind of food your grandmother would cook for you if she lived in St. Petersburg (not Florida), which as a matter of fact, is just where the gracious owner, Rimma Brisker and her husband lived before moving to San Jose.
This is a place the WBLP will look forward to revisiting.
Russian Café & Deli
1712 S. Winchester Blvd.
The goal of the Winchester Boulevard Lunch Project (WBLP) is to visit all of the independent restaurants along Winchester Boulevard from Highway 280 to Highway 85 in search of the perfect lunch spot. The perfect lunch spot is delicious, fast and cheap. Because of openings and closings, working on this project is like painting the Bay Bridge will it ever end? Lunch can be an adventure; there are many restaurants on Winchester Blvd, and every one of them has a story.