Welcome back to The Bite, Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.
What makes a burger “Russian?” At Kouros Bay Diner, I have no idea. The Russian burger here is a “chopped prime beef cooked to perfection” topped with mozzarella cheese, bacon and Russian dressing. Sounds authentic, doesn’t it?
According to Kitchen Daily’s food encyclopedia, Russian foods are typically defined by …
- sourness, apparent in the lavish provision of pickles; in the use of sour yeast doughs for the typical Russian breads (RYE BREADS, or rye and wheat, mostly brown or dark brown, the darkest of all being the black Borodinsky); and in KVASS, the beer-like fermented drink made from black rye bread.
- a fundamental range of vegetables, notably CABBAGE, BEETROOT, TURNIP, and SWEDE.
- much reliance on hearty soups, several of which (BORSHCH, SHCHI) achieved international fame.
- little meat until the 19th century, though it is now a central part of the main meal. Many edible fungi (where available)
- CURD CHEESE (tvorog) and SOUR CREAM (smetana); see also RUSSIAN CHEESES; ‘PICKLED’ CHEESES.
- onion, garlic, HORSERADISH, and DILL as the basic flavorings.
I don’t see Russian dressing, mozzarella cheese or bacon on that list. Oh well.
For $10, I was served a nice-sized burger on a seeded bun accompanied by two ice cold onion rings, a wedge of iceberg lettuce, two tomatoes and some very crispy fries, some of which ice cold, some were steaming hot. Also included were two small containers of cole slaw and Russian dressing.
I don’t have much to say about this burger. The dressing was odd and separated in the container and no amount of stirring or shaking would emulsify it. The bacon was plentiful but limp. The cheese tasteless. The burger was properly cooked to a nice medium well. It wasn’t dried out, but not overly juicy. At the first bites, it was okay and nothing special. Half-way through the burger, its taste became repulsive. It’s been a long time since I threw out half my meal, but that’s what happened here. Fail Kouros. Fail.
Kouros Bay Diner, 3861 Nostrand Avenue, (718) 743-5777