Brighton Beach

Little Odessa, aka Brighton Beach, is a cure for the Autumnal Blues

November 19, 2014 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Welcome to Little Odessa, aka Brighton Beach, whose seaside charm can help you beat the Autumnal Blues. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan

Eye On Real Estate

Nostalgia for summer is setting in.

A good antidote is a day at the beach — Brighton Beach, aka Little Odessa.

Ignore the depressingly autumnal leaves on the trees along the elevated B train tracks and make a break for the oceanside haven where everyone speaks Russian and/or various Slavic and Central Asian languages.

They’ll feed you well even if you don’t, and share their beachfront with you.

Though its steel-gray Atlantic Ocean waters are too cold for ordinary mortals this time of year, you can count on finding a few tougher-than-the-rest-of-us guys striding along the boardwalk in their bathing suits, heading off for a swim.

There’s also a shirtless fellow who takes his dogs on shoreline strolls.

“They love to go walking on the beach,” he told us when we asked to take pictures of the pooches.

You can keep your eye on the boardwalk from shoreline restaurants like Tatiana at 3152 Brighton 6th St.  (which BTW has a nightclub that’s included in every Brooklyn travel guide under the sun) or have eating adventures in Brighton Beach Avenue restaurants that dish up Russian, Turkish, Uzbek and Uyghur (a Central Asian ethnic minority that is being persecuted in China) cuisine.

There are shops with fab food to take home, and a bookstore that sells Russian nesting dolls that look like Vladmir Putin.

Many commercial tenants took a beating during Superstorm Sandy, but have bounced back.

Did we mention there’s a liquor store that stocks more than 50 kinds of vodka? That should warm things up when mind-chilling nostalgia strikes.

Here are some of Little Odessa’s most reliable cures for the Autumnal Blues:

* Volna, a shoreline restaurant at 3145 Brighton 4th St., serves green borscht. Very tasty green borscht.

It is made without beets, which give the better-known version of the soup its customary scarlet hue.

When we stopped by the other day, the green borscht was off the menu, because it’s the wrong season of the year for it, or something like that. But not to worry — the red borscht is crave-worthy, too.

Of course, because we’re Eye on Real Estate, we want to know about the buildings that house these businesses. In the case of Volna, it’s on the ground floor of a co-op apartment building, real estate website StreetEasy.com indicates.

* Vladimir Putin is “hollow at the core,” as Joseph Conrad would say. Or at least, the nesting-doll version of the Russian president at St. Petersburg Global Trade House is.

He’s a wooden plaything big enough to hold six smaller dolls that look like Lenin and other past leaders of Russia and the Soviet Union.  

Another bigwig — Santa — is also present in doll form on shop shelves at this bookstore at 230 Brighton Beach Ave. And there’s other charming merchandise such as Russian white porcelain dishes for those who enjoy looking at the cover designs of the store’s Russian-language books, but can’t read them.

The store building in which the shop is located has belonged from 1973 to 1995 to an investor group called Bristol Associates, which transferred the property to Bristol Associates LLC in 1995, city Finance Department records indicate.

 

* The shop with the 50-plus types of vodka is Ocean Wine & Liquor at 514 Brighton Beach Ave., which has been in the neighborhood for many decades.

Its biggest sellers are the vodkas made in Russia and France, manager Jin Kim told us.

For instance, a French vodka, Balinoff, is popular with customers. It’s $16.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle, compared to $39.99 for a one-liter bottle of Grey Goose (which is also made in France).

Also, Petergoff Pepper Vodka is popular with customers. “It’s on the radio,” Kim explained. Ocean Wine & Liquor also stocks a variant form of this hot-flavored booze, Ukrainian honey pepper vodka.

Back in the day, the shop sold lots of Russian wines. But the older generation who loved them is disappearing from the neighborhood, and these sweet libations don’t appeal to younger shoppers, he said.

The store building where the liquor store is located has belonged since at least the 1950s to investors who have used some variation of the name Lesomer Realty, Finance Department records indicate. Florence Shatanof, a Lesomer Realty Co. partner, signed the most recent deed, in 2001, when that entity transferred ownership of the building to Lesomer Realty LLC.

* Terrific gourmet food shops stand side by side: Gold Label at 281 Brighton Beach Ave. and Vintage Gourmet Specialty at 287 Brighton Beach Ave.

Gold Label’s got delectable hot food, and draws customers in droves at lunchtime. Even the canned peas, with their exotic Russian-language labels, look interesting.

Vintage Gourmet has vast selections of nuts, dried fruit and candies. Our personal favorite there is the $1.50 Ülker chocolate and hazelnut candy bar imported from Istanbul.

The store building that houses Gold Label has belonged since 2012 to Kwok Leng Wun — and before that, from 1981 to 2012, belonged to Kwok Leng Wun and Kwok Fong Wun, Finance Department records show.

The store building where Vintage Food is located has belonged to Milton Rubinstein since 1992, those records indicate. 

 

* If you have the energy to check out another specialty food shop (and of course you do), troll the aisles of Taste of Russia at 219 Brighton Beach Ave.

It stocks Russian tea bags with Czar Nikolas II’s portrait on the box, elaborate cakes and Uzbek pide bread, which is round like pita bread but puffier.

This store building belonged from 1998 to 2003 to Taste of Russia Inc., which then transferred the property’s ownership to a related company, Serod Realty Inc.

Serguei Rodionov, who signed the 2003 deed as Taste of Russia Inc.’s president, also signed a mortgage as the president of Serod Realty Inc., Finance Department records show.

* And before you decide you have enough gourmet goodies in your shopping bags, drop by Brighton Bazaar at 1007 Brighton Beach Ave. Our favorite thing there is bottled Georgian lemonade (from Georgia the country, not Georgia the state, of course). It’s flavored with tarragon or pear.

The store building where the shop is located has belonged for several decades to Brighton Realty Corp., Finance Department records indicate. Company vice president Alex Lichter signed a mortgage on Brighton Realty Corp.’s behalf in 1984.

* As someone who is partial to noodles of many nations, we can assure you that the lagman at Kashkar Café does not disappoint.

The Uyghur and Uzbek halal restaurant at 1141 Brighton Beach Ave. serves up this type of noodle in tasty soups. And there’s an often-recommended dish called geiro lagman, which is sliced beef and lamb in a sauce with peppers and green beans on a bed of noodles.

The restaurant is located in a co-op apartment building with commercial space on the ground floor, real estate website Propertyshark.com indicates.

So much dessert, so little time.

* If you prefer to sit nicely and have your sweets served to you with a glass of hot tea, make a beeline for the baklava at Güllüoğlu at 231 Brighton Beach Ave.

The café dishes up more than a dozen types of this sweet treat, which is imported from Istanbul and baked in B’KLYN. You can’t go wrong with the special baklava, which has a double helping of pistachios, or a cylinder-shaped variety that’s filled with cherries.

The store building where the café is located belonged from 1980 to 2014 to Arthur Bernstein or a company of his, Finance Department records indicate. This year, ownership was transferred to the Arthur Bernstein Revocable Trust.

* If you prefer to take your dessert home, La Brioche at 1077 Brighton Beach Ave. is a good bet. You can get a rush just from smelling the butter in the air. There are heaps of tasty cookies and eclairs and cream puffs galore. And the cheesecake is terrific — it’s very creamy and not at all sweet.

The building the bakery is in was bought for $1.275 million in 2012 by an LLC which has Julia Fridman as a member, Finance Department records show.

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