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Borscht (.50), originally a Ukrainian specialty, is shape-shifted into myriad forms as the recipe migrated. The Cafe's version is a hot, beef-based broth that's a tad watery, but loaded with shredded beef, cabbage, potato and, of course, beets.Begin, as many Russians do, with a shot of iced vodka ().Aside from flavored vodkas from Stolichnaya, including my favorite, a rich anisette called ochotnichya, the bar stocks "old country" infusions like dill, honey and raspberry. Mate a shot of vodka with the Russian form of these Spanish tidbits, a zakuska ("little bite").TWO OF THE BEST LIP BALMS TO HELP PREVENT COLD SORES Lysine Lip Therape with Monolaurin (£8): A natural, nourishing treatment for dry lips with two antiviral agents (l-lysine, an amino acid, and monolaurin, from coconut) to help prevent and treat cold sores, which are caused by the Herpes simplex virus. - Long gone is the pomp of Tsar Peter the Great, but the groaning-board concept of cooking introduced during his reign remains.Blinchiki (.75) makes a good pretheater snack: Two hefty blintzes bursting with beef and rice come garnished with feathery slices of cucumber and tomato.In fact, every plate at Little Russian Cafe makes canny use of the colors and textures of fresh vegetables to spark interest in recipes that a foreigner might otherwise dismiss as stodgy.

And dishes like duck a l'orange, relics from the heyday of Russian gastronomy, when the legendary 19th century French chef, Careme, served at the court of Tsar Alexander I, still linger on some Russian menus.

Fact is, be they princes or paupers, Russians love to eat.

Generously dressed beets, potatoes, pickles and onions prep taste buds for the courses to come.

Yazyk (.75), sliced beef tongue, seems too tame to whet the appetite until you dab on a smidgen of hair-raising horseradish dressing.

It's tempting to try them all, since the menu touts vodka as the most refined of distilled spirits and mentions that "many doctors believe in its medicinal value." But if potent spirits aren't your cup of tea, you can have tea (.25), served Russian-style in a glass. Zakuski resemble the nibbles in a Swedish smorgasbord: caviar, marinated vegetables, salads, boiled potato, pickles, smoked fish and good country breads set the pace for the soup, entree and dessert that complete a classic Russian dinner.While Little Russian Cafe is too tiny to whip up a vast array of zakuski, the vinaigrette house salad (.75) sets a good example.