Food News

Taste Europe in Arlington. Guy Fieri Did.

A few weeks back, when Guy Fieri and the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives crew stencil-painted the metroplex, tracking their movements was sort of like tracking a spiky-haired, loud-mouthed Santa. But when I heard they filmed an episode at a spot that I've driven by no less than 100 times and never once even considered stopping, I paused. Really?

Hate all you want, but this is the potential of DDD. I've found an eclectic diner right under my nose that I would have otherwise never visited.

Set among car repair shops and fast food joints, Taste of Europe is in a nondescript white building with neon writing on the windows that yells out to busy cars full of busy people gunning past it on Pioneer Parkway. But the wonders inside this place are literally a trip.

Owner Mikhail Frumkin moved to the United States 32 years ago from Belarus. He owned a store at the Galleria for 12 years but left Big D for Arlington to be closer to his home and warehouse.

Frumkin is one the biggest local importers of Russian collectibles and goods. In 1991 he even brokered a deal with the Soviet Army for four Navy containers full of old uniforms, hats and military collectibles.

Which needs explaining, because Taste of Europe is three different things: restaurant, deli/grocery and antique shop.

In terms of the restaurant, they take an unabashed Eastern European route, meaning the menu has no safe items, nor is it designed to suit the tastes of the American palate. As the sign out front reads, it's a Taste of Europe. That and just that.

The house-made, bright red borscht is a popular dish with chicken, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, beets and onion. In the summer they offer cold borscht with pickled beets, boiled egg, cucumber and green onion. Supposedly a couple from Austin drives up once a month just for a bowl.

The cabbage rolls also have a following. They're made with ground beef or chicken with rice and carrots, wrapped in cabbage leaves, which are then cooked in a tomato sauce.

Other items include German Schnitzel, Siberian Pelmeni, Ukrainian Pirogues, Russian meat blintzes and "old Russian recipe" beef stroganoff.

When Frumkin got the call from DDD over a month ago, he had to go through several phone interviews, including one that was over two hours long. Then, when the DDD crew arrived in mid-December, they filmed for what Frumkin described as an exhausting 20 hours. He still doesn't know how the DDD research department initially heard about Taste of Europe, but he's excited about the attention.

When asked if he's nervous about the show, "I'm too old to be nervous," said Frumkin with a boyish grin.

If you're in the market for anything Russian -- tea, chocolate, meats, pickles, a badass Russian Army officer coat, fedoras or a hot bowl of borscht -- Taste of Europe is the place to be. The show should air in a couple weeks. You've been warned.