Visiting Brighton Beach in the Winter

Brighton Beach

With weather.com promising only a thirty percent chance of snow, I decided to drag some friends out to Brighton Beach in search of delicious food. I had done a bit of research into some local favorite Russian spots and the highlights seemed to dot the boardwalk. With temperatures in the low teens, I thought it best to stay away from the windy shore and try some of the warm borscht spots along Brighton Beach Ave. It’s a depressing stretch  as it runs just under the train tracks of the Q subway line, but lively as any Brooklyn neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon. My initial research had lead me to believe that a restaurant existed that served food from both Korean and Uzbekistan. I confess I don’t know much about the traditional dishes of Uzbek food, but it sounded weird and potentially sublime.

Well, I was right. The Korean/Uzbek food at cafe “At Your Mother In Law’s” was sublime indeed. The restaurant goes by several names, one of which is Elza Fancy Foods and the other of which is “At Your Mother in Law’s,” a joke that survives the rough translation from what I imagine is Uzbek. We went to town on the menu and ordered two giant pitchers of a magical sweet beverage called “Compot” which is apparently made with fresh apples and berries but tasted a whole lot like Snapple Apple. The restaurant is small and no-frills except for the dollar store Minnie Muse birthday decorations. The menu is extensive for a small cafe and cold salads (mostly korean) are sold by the lb. in plastic to-go containers.

We had:

Compot: A pretty pink sweet drink made with fresh fruit
Plov: An Uzbek rice pilaf with cumin seeds and lamb
Plov: An Uzbek rice pilaf with cumin seeds and lamb
Manti: Meat dumplings
Manti: Meat dumplings
Eggplant Hye:  A cold spicy Korean marinated eggplant dish. Amazingly refreshing
Eggplant Hye: A cold spicy Korean marinated eggplant dish. Amazingly refreshing
Kuksu: A Korean noodle soup served hot or cold with meat, pickles, egg and peppers
Kuksu: A Korean noodle soup served hot or cold with meat, pickles, egg and peppers
Samsa: squash-filled pastries. Flaky and just barely sweet
Samsa: squash-filled pastries. Flaky and just barely sweet

After lunch we took a stroll to the ocean. Two men were feeding bread to the chilly seagulls. This was before it started snowing. The boardwalk was practically silent except for a few older ladies in fur coats.

Those seagulls look cold
Those seagulls look cold

After a quick trip to the beach, it was time for a drink. We settled on Keeber, A beautiful bar with dark wood paneled booths. It was empty at 3pm on a Saturday but we liked the beer menus with lots of pictures. I had a Gulden Draak and I would venture to say it’s one of the best beers I’ve ever tasted. Beer Advocate agrees with me even though I picked it based on the look of the bottle and because “Golden Dragon” reminds me of The Hobbit.

Extensive beer menu at Keeber
Extensive beer menu at Keeber
Golden Draak beer at Keeber
Golden Draak beer at Keeber

Then it started to snow. We made a quick dash for the holy grail of Russian Markets, Brighton Bazaar. It’s got all the weird Russian groceries you could possibly want. The smoked fish section was pretty impressive. As was the prepared food in steam trays. I saw everything from whole fishes to potato perogies. I came home with a 1/2 pound of olives for $3.00.

Some of the cold food offerings at Brighton Bazaar. The babaganoush was incredible
Some of the cold food offerings at Brighton Bazaar. The baba ganoush was incredible
Smoked fish case at Brighton Bazaar
Smoked fish case at Brighton Bazaar

As you may know, grocery shopping is my favorite hobby and I tend to get lost in markets, especially when they are exotic. Brighton Bazaar was filled with exotic grains, pickles, juices and meats and I couldn’t really resist.

Baba ganoush and  olives from Brighton Bazaar alongside Eggplant Hye from Elza Fancy Foods
Baba ganoush and olives from Brighton Bazaar alongside Eggplant Hye from Elza Fancy Foods
Quince nectar
Quince nectar
Add 2 oz. quince nectar to 6 oz. sparking water for a refreshing sweet drink. Add  1 oz of vodka for some fun
Add 2 oz. quince nectar to 6 oz. sparking water for a refreshing sweet drink. Add 1 oz of vodka for some fun
Lavash bread from Brighton Bazaar
Lavash bread from Brighton Bazaar

I HIGHLY recommend you make the trip out to Brighton Beach before the weather turns nice and the tourists swarm the beach.

Elza Fancy Foods/ At Your Mother-In-Law’s 
3071 Brighton 4th St.
(between Brighton Beach Ave & Oceanview Ave)
Brooklyn 11235

Keeber Bar 
1003 Brighton Beach Ave
(between Coney Island Ave & Brighton 11th St)
Brooklyn, NY 11235

Brighton Bazaar 
1007 Brighton Beach Ave
(between Coney Island Ave & Brighton 11th St)
Brooklyn, NY 11235

4 thoughts on “Visiting Brighton Beach in the Winter

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