Dear Mr. Gold:
The most authentic borscht in L.A. — other than at Grandma's kitchen?
–Devin Saez, via Facebook
The authenticity of borscht, of course, mostly depends on the borscht you have in mind. in Santa Monica, for instance, has an absolutely delicious hot borscht, very oniony, flavored with dill, perfect on a cold night — but it is plumped out with white beans. I have liked the Russian borscht at Traktir in West Hollywood and the odd but undeniably authentic Ukrainian borscht at Roxolana in Pasadena's Old Town, less so the green Ukrainian borscht you can find at Troyka.
To me, the word borscht conjures visions of the chilled, Pepto-pink ambrosia, crowned with a glop of sour cream and served in a chipped water glass, that used to be a standard at Jewish delis — less a hearty soup than a refreshing beverage. You want a nice glass of borscht? Go to Barney Greengrass in Beverly Hills. At $5.50, it may be the only bargain on the menu. And the glass won't be chipped.