Borscht & homemade vodka
Well, I am safely ensconced in my new digs in metropolitan Minnesota, as the mystical and magical Sherlock Holmes might describe my immediate state of affairs. I will call it Saint Paul when mentioning it here. How long I will be here also relies to a degree on mystical and magical circumstances. Probably, for a few months.
Less than two days after my arrival, I asked a young lady if she knew of any Polish restaurants in the neighborhood. No, she replied, but there is a Russian one just down the road. "If you order a vodka, they give it to you in a water glass filled to the top," she laughed.
Actually, from the reviews I read about "Nina's" after learning of it, most people seem to think of it as a bar that serves food. Here are a few paragraphs from a professional newspaper reviewer:
"The decor is faux garden mixed with low-rent disco, unaffected and guileless. No focus group has been anywhere near the dining room, and we love that. Formerly known as the Russian Tavern, Nina's is still a gathering place for the area's Russian immigrants ....
"Combine tomatoes, pickles, peppers and onions, chop and mix them with a light dressing and you'll have the unusual and pungent Caucasian salad.
"For dinner, the goulash was a clear winner, with big savory chunks of beef in a thick gravy. And the purported favorite of Mikhail Gorbachev, chicken stuffed with pepper jack cheese, was also filling and tasty.
"Peasant-style ravioli is a fabulous baked dish, invented in-house, with cheese and plenty of mushrooms in a cream sauce atop beef ravioli.
"Beef stroganoff, a Russian staple, here is a plate of overcooked meat and mushrooms atop poorly cooked noodles. We ordered the frog's legs, so you don't have to. They have little flavor other than their white wine sauce.
"Borscht should be available once local beets are in the markets, and the pea soup and chicken soup are perfectly good, though we like our soup served hotter."
And, here is a customer comment: "It's a great little neighborhood hole in the wall joint and the food is super cheap and she makes the best Borscht.”
And another: "Best local dive bar ever. Amazing homemade vodka."
And another: "An interesting place with an interesting mix of patrons and decent Russian dishes."
Make you hungry? This sounds like a "dive" with potential to me, and I am eager make a run to Nina's. Want to join me?
Ted might not leave the stage
I have been listenting to so much music by/from Ted Nugent the past week that I decided I would toss another piece into the mix. Like most guitar men of the rock and roll era, Nugent played with a few bands. One was called Damn Yankees and here, in my not so humble opinion, is one of the group's neater songs: "High Enough."
Nugent has a brief guitar solo toward the end of the piece. The vocals are performed by Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades. Drummer Michael Cartellone was the fourth member of the band.
By the way, I just learned today that Nugent and Derek St. Holmes will be performing in the Twin Cities next month. Maybe, dinner at Nina's followed by an evening of rock. Maybe .... and if we would be lucky, Nugent might stay on the stage and keep right on playing after the concert has "officially" ended, as he often has been known to do.