Kramarczuk's vs. Moscow on the Hill: A battle of the borscht
If it's good enough for Russian and Ukrainian winters, it's probably good enough for Minnesota winters. A simmering bowl of borscht is hearty, filling, and loaded with nutrients. This week, we look at variations of the beet soup in two locations: Kramarczuk's and Moscow on the Hill.
Yael Grauer Borscht is hearty and filling--but where to go?
Kramarczuk's serves East European foods of all flavors, including goulash, sauerkraut, and the delicious handmade sausages they are known for, which sell at the store next door. More of a deli than a restaurant, Kramarczuk's offers quick service: Get in line, buy your food, and sit in a booth. The decor is unassuming, though Matryoshka dolls do peek out from doorways. But the main attraction is definitely the food--perfectly seasoned and full of flavor.
A cup of borscht will run you $3.49, and a full bowl goes for $5.99. The soup has pork and beef, which tastes slow-cooked; it's incredibly tender. Sour cream is self-serve. Finely diced vegetables--cabbage, celery, onion, and carrots--provide a delicate melding of flavor to the beet base... and oddly enough, the beet isn't the least bit overpowering. Beet fanatics might be disappointed, but for the rest of us, this is delicious.
Yael Grauer Kramarczuk's borscht is tender and flavorful.
Moscow on the Hill
Yael Grauer Moscow on the Hill's borscht is served with plenty of dill and a dollop of sour cream.
Our next stop was Moscow on the Hill, just minutes from downtown St. Paul. It's actually more of a vodka lounge, with the most extensive selection of cocktails I've come across in a while. Moscow on the Hill is tastefully decorated with Russian artwork, red velvet tablecloths, opaque curtains, and elegant lighting. An accordionist entertained diners, adding to the charming yet relaxed vibe.
A bowl of borscht at Moscow on the Hill costs $4.95. Beet, cabbage, potato, fresh dill, and sour cream. The soup wasn't bad, but it was a bit too salty and not quite as filling--due in no small part to the lack of meat. It was tasty, sure, but didn't really hit the spot.
Kramarczuk's emerges as the clear winner. What Moscow on the Hill's borscht lacks in flavor, the restaurant more than makes up for in atmosphere, but perhaps we'll get a few cocktails and skip the borscht next time. Kramarczuk's borscht, however, is by far the most delicious.
215 East Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
612.379.3018; Kramarczuk's website
Moscow on the Hill
371 Selby Ave, St Paul
651.291.1236; Moscow on the Hill website