Cowart's Common Room
Borscht and Tears

From comments on my blog it seems that LBD, Jane and I all frequented this exotic Kensington restaurant in days of yore, although possibly not at the same time. As I remember it was an avant-garde sort of place in the days when communism had a kind of rebellious, tractor-factory chic about it (not that the place or its clientele were that way inclined). Besides, it embodied a sort of Dr Zhivago romance as if a few hundred yards away the Volga flowed rather than the Thames and Omar Sharif and Julie Christie would blow in looking sad and covered in snow at any minute. As I remember the waiters all dressed in a Balkan peasant kind of a way with sleeves the girth of tree trunks and trousers held up with cummerbunds of red silk and you were served a schooner of sherry (eh?) when you arrived along with a handful of spring onions. Borscht figured prominently upon the menu as did Goulash and the whole place had the atmosphere of a boudoir, with acres of burgundian velvet and low lights. My memory may now be playing tricks - it was a very long time ago - so I cannot remember whether cossacks actually danced before the diners, or someone recited Pushkin's poetry, though I am pretty sure that a tremulous little man sat on a stool in the corner sorrowfully playing the balalaika and receiving glasses of vodka from the grateful (and presumably tearful) folk. (If the spring onions don't make you cry, the balalaika will). And where every night was party night. Orcho Orcho!

I was just wondering whether anyone else had been there, at the tale end of the sixties or indeed since. 'Those were the days my friend........'Crying or Very sadCrying or Very sadCrying or Very sadCrying or Very sad

Posted at 3rd Dec 2008 - 09:15PM   Posted by Fennie   Borscht and Tears Comments: 10

YES!!!! When I worked as a PA in the rock concert industry the rock stars used to want to go there after concerts at Earls Court.

There was a French model who used to hang out there, dated Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page and is now the mother of the rock photographer Scarlet Page. Used to wear very unusual clothes.

Does anyone have any photos from those days???

Posted by: Crucifix on 3rd Dec 2008 at 09:38PM

TIGGYWINKLE's Avatar I must have just missed it. I worked and lived in London in the mid 60's. What an exciting time to live there. I lived in Smith Street, off The Kings Rd. Was at the opening of Biba's 2nd shop. Just read her autobiography. Well worth reading if you lived there at that time. Got my mane of streaked hair cut short by Videl Sasoon, and hated it. Cried for 2 days, and ended up buying a human hair wig(the follow on from Ginchy wigs) in Harrods. Loved my Courrege boots, and wish I had kept my Biba and Mary Quant clothes. Such great memories, but sadly no photos.

Posted by: TIGGYWINKLE on 3rd Dec 2008 at 10:23PM

LittleBrownDog's Avatar Gosh, yes - vaguely remember cummerbunds, low lighting and lots of different floor levels (which played havoc with your navigation when nature called, I seem to remember Shocked) Don't think I could have been there in the 60s, though, as was still only in short trousers then Wink, so probably did not see it in its heyday. Beetroot soup with bits in still on the menu, tho'

(Surprised to your human-hair wig, Tiggywinkle. Even it it was from Harrods, I would be forever wondering whose hair it had been.)

Posted by: LittleBrownDog on 3rd Dec 2008 at 10:35PM

Elizabethm's Avatar I must have been a seventies visitor but definitely remember the cummerbunds, soup and the ever present danger of falling down a change of floor level. I would have been swanning around in my maxi coat, floor length black with knee high boots. Loved it so much I always hated having to admit I was warm and take it off.

Posted by: Elizabethm on 3rd Dec 2008 at 10:40PM

Fennie's Avatar Now here are two amazing things. First the old Borscht 'n' Tears restaurant is still going strong:

'This rowdy Russian restaurant of 40 years’ standing in Knightsbridge seems oblivious to the whims of fashion, and remains a popular destination for the more boisterous sorts of parties.' Or so it says in Google.

Second, my blog, which is only incidentally called Borscht and Tears because I couldn't think what to call that week's episode which touched on marrying off via the internet an 87 year old grandmother to a Russian oligarch is number 9 of 27,700 Borscht and Tears entries in Google. Gosh! You think what you write is more or less private - a tiny needle in the ocean haystack that is the internet and there you are, caught out. The spiders that search the web for Google search very fine, methinks.

Posted by: Fennie on 3rd Dec 2008 at 11:02PM

TIGGYWINKLE's Avatar Little brown Jug, I didn't give a hoot where the hair came from. It was a life saver to have my mane of hair back. Wouldn't go out without my false eyelashes at the time.-Youth-Arrived back to Dublin, and met Mr. Tiggy. After several dates, decided to leave the wig off one night, as it was itching my head. The look of disappointment in his face, not to mention his expression when I said " Oh that was just my wig" Wigs were not so popular in Ireland, and it was expensive. However he had fallen in love with me, the hair grew back, and we lived happily ever after.

Posted by: TIGGYWINKLE on 3rd Dec 2008 at 11:24PM

Camilla's Avatar Do not remember this Fennie, although I was born in Westminster and lived in York Street, just off Baker Street, oh happy days. Wonderful growing up there, great night life, fab shops, bistro's, cafe's, numerous pubs. Worked in Bond Street in fashion industry, got to dress windows in Harrod's and Selfridges, also got to take home gorgeous clothes off the peg from rails of fashion shows.

How could I have missed that restaurant Fennie, perhaps it opened a little later when I worked further up from west one. Also remembered Biba shop, and walking down Carnaby Street, clothes later then had a military look about them.


Posted by: Camilla on 4th Dec 2008 at 02:04AM

Unpeuloufoque's Avatar Oh God, I cant belive I am sayign this but I am too young to have frequented it alas and am now madly jealoius!! I do remember being dragged aroudn carnaby street and Biba by my much older sister though!!

Posted by: Unpeuloufoque on 4th Dec 2008 at 10:05AM

Im to young as well une Sad

Posted by: Bodran on 4th Dec 2008 at 10:12AM

Exmoorjane's Avatar Noooo, I went in the eighties.....and no cossacks dancing. Remember it as dark and cummerbandish though. There was also a very good Polish restaurant called Wodka (anyone remember that?) in Kensington.
Little Brown Jug? Very Happy

Posted by: Exmoorjane on 4th Dec 2008 at 11:47AM

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