THE BITE: Many of the Eastern European markets in our area have what used to be called a salad bar. I still refer to them as salad bars, but in reality, they offer so much more.

Gourmet Boutique, 3688 Nostrand Avenue, has one of the largest salad bars in the area. Actually they have more than one. They offer up everything from a plain old salad to beef stroganoff. They also have a huge baked goods selection, a large variety of European beers and just about everything else you’d find in a standard supermarket with the exception of Diet Coke.

For this week’s Bite, I’m going to talk about their “veal cutlet with mushrooms.” This is avaialable by the piece and is priced at $4.99 per pound. I don’t know how the cashiers keep the food bar prices straight. Every item on the salad bars is priced differently.

The veal cutlet is about the size of a hockey puck, but it is not a cutlet at all. According to the food dictionary at Epicurious, a cutlet is “a thin, tender cut of meat (usually from lamb, pork or veal) taken from the leg or rib section.” This patty is combination of ground veal and breadcrumbs.

This is a veal meatball that is breaded and most likely fried. Now I don’t know if this dish is supposed to be eaten hot or cold, but when I got home and nuked it, the oil in the breading sizzled and dripped onto the plate.

This hockey puck of veal and bread is topped with a curious mound of mushrooms, held in a spherical shape by a sauce that tasted very much like sour cream. How sour cream held together a ball of mushrooms escapes me, but I could see myself pondering that very question for hours. These mushrooms however had the distinct taste of being previously canned. While canned mushrooms aren’t my favorite thing, I much prefer fresh, the mushroom tennis ball was the tastiest thing on the plate but not enough to save this dish.

After I ate half of this veal cutlet with mushrooms, I pushed it away and commented to myself, “That was truly awful.” My comment was met by laughter from my editor. Damn, I thought I said that low enough not to be heard. But, unfortunately, the cat was out of the bag. And now you know it, too.

I do have to give props to the store for the presentation of this dish. I am somewhat intrigued by the ball of mushrooms and will be trying to replicate that presentation, but not the flavor, at home.

Gourmet Boutique, 3688 Nostrand Avenue, (718) 332-4412.

The Bite is 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.

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  • Anonymous

    I believe the use of the word “cutlet” here comes from a poor translation of the Russian “kotleta” which is in fact, as you described, more of a meatball made out of meat and breadcrumbs.

    I’m not a big fan of veal or mushrooms so I’ve never tried this particular dish but I have found that the food at Gourmet Boutique can vary from great to terrible. It is generally much better than some of the other Russian “salad bars” in our neighborhood and on Brighton, which are generally characterized by very bland over-oiled dishes. But I have also had some pretty bad experiences as well, such as buying a pound of “kani salad” (I know, my mistake for buying kani salad from a Russian salad bar) only to find that it was not at all fresh and had already gone sour as soon as I got home.

    Either way, they are generally good for a quick meal when I’m too lazy to cook myself and there’s a nice discount after 10pm.

    • nolastname

      I compared them to Cherry Hill. Good food, American friendly and more affordable. The cheeses and smoked meats are reasonably priced.
      Some of the deserts are fabulous. I love the stromboli with walnuts, cherries and a prune paste. 6.99 a Lb. the ingredients are more than worth it.I believe the 30% off on prepared foods starts at 10:30.

      • nolastname

        Just made some fresh bacon that I picked up on Nostrand Ave. I usually burn my bacon but this stuff I can cook 1 minute on each side and devour. Slightly smoked and not salty at all. $5.99 a Lb. and worth it. Yummy.

    • http://www.njluxurymotors.com Arthur Borko

      You are correct, it is indeed called a “kotleta”.

  • Anonymous

    It certainly does not look appetizing.  When I first saw the picture, it looked like a frog, or some other critter to me.  A frog probably would have tasted better, right Robert?

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

       Frog is pretty bland.

      • Anonymous

        I have never eaten frog.  I’m not one to taste things like this.  I have heard that the legs (from Nathans) are a little gamey, but not unpleasant.  My brother is a person who is not afraid to taste “funny” foods.  He makes his kid try everything also, which is a good thing.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

          Nolastname and I realized some time back that we had never tried frog. So we tried Nathan’s. Of the two of us, mine was the lesser of two negatives. Nolastname did not care for it much at all.

          • nolastname

            Yes, they did make nice pics but I could only ate the smaller section of leg. Not my cup of tea.

        • nolastname

          Gamey is a good description. I thought too juicy for me. I like everything either well done or burned. 

          • Nyckat

            cooked so wrong I am guessing!!

      • Nyckat

        southern girl here- plus hubbie is a retired classic trained french chef…frog legs done right are anything but bland…pick better places to eat!! My kids used to go frog giggin’ and we would prepare legs in a few ways after midnight at our camp house, neighbors would show up just in time every “morning” we cooked

    • Anonymous

      I’ve had good frog and I’ve had bad frog. And yes, it does taste like chicken. 

      The best frog I’ve ever had was in a little place in Haiti. There’s a story to that, but I’m sure as hell not going to put that out on the interwebs. 

      • nolastname

        Good frog/bad frog. I did see the comparison to chicken. I imagine in Haiti it is served with a sauce. There is a nice recipe with garlic sauce. It’s worth another shot. Can you recommend a place closer than Haiti?
        PS. If the Mrs. is OK with the Haiti story please share it.

  • Anonymous

    looks like a dead rat on top of that kotleta

  • Anonymous

    I see you ordered the prolapsed goat anus,looks delicious…but seriously i just lost my apatite after seeing that

  • applegreen

    the mushrooms look like its “zhulien” or something like that, usually made with sour cream and cheese.