Ocean View Café is a longtime Brighton Beach mainstay, a corner kitchen that revels in its breezy, greasy-spoon milieu. Except here you find dishes like a caesar salad topped with meaty swatches of smoked eel — a logical aquatic bedfellow for the anchovies in the recipe's signature dressing. Hearty and homey Eastern European standards — beef stroganoff, stuffed cabbage, veal rack submerged in mahogany gravy — reign supreme. Top-notch borscht, the Ukrainian version green with sorrel, the Russian rendition red with beets and served cold in warm weather, join pelmeni and vareniki, paunchy dumplings filled with ground meats, potato, or sour cherries. Sip cups of the fruit punch known as compote, or swig neon-green tarragon soda that tastes of anise. In contrast to the melting pot of pan-Soviet cuisines on the main menu, desserts look to Italy, with offerings like tiramisu and tartufo and crêpes and cakes to round out the assortment. Ocean View has a relaxed vibe; TVs buzz in the background, mixing with catchy pop songs to form a media-fueled white noise. In summer, expect the occasional long wait: Although owner Nicholai Ivanov’s modest respite doesn’t boast actual ocean views, the crowds still find their way to his tables from Brighton Beach a few blocks away.
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