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Nov 15, 2000 02:38 PM

R.I.P. kiev

  • k

Kiev is gone: soap on the windows, "FOR RENT SIGN" and no explanation. Anyone know what happened?

Kiev was not the best Ukrainian in the village, but I'll miss

-the place I've been counting on to be open 24 hours since I was in high school

-the best cheese blintzes I knew about

-great soups and decent Ukranian miscellany (although the mgmt seemed to be Indian)

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  1. "Kiev was not the best Ukrainian in the village, but I'll miss"

    My feelings exactly. It's truly the end of an era, and it's just slightly not totally NYC anymore for me now...even though I haven't been there in years (and even then only when inebriated).

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      My favorite memory of Kiev was not actually the one time I ate there -- rather, it was the video for the song "Detachable Penis," by the band King Missile -- in which the singer gets drunk in the East Village and wakes up sans willie.

      He mourns his loss at Kiev, over a plate of kielbasa and sunny-side-up eggs. He later finds his lost body part for sale on a blanket on 2nd Ave.

      Remember when MTV used to be FUN to watch?

      1. re: Mike Nist
        Dominique Rodriguez

        I know for a fact that building's owner owns Kiev also, and why did he close the restaurant? All of you answering this question: while all of you are crying cause you miss it, but all of you haven't gone there for years!It's gonna be empty for a while - he's asking 25k for rent now!
        If you like a restaurant-support it!

        1. re: Dominique Rodriguez

          Hey, I ate at Kiev all the time. (Well, as all the time as possible for someone who tries to stay out of Meanhattan except in dire emergencies.) My last meal there was a bowl of their supreme pea soup -- with challah, *of course* -- while waiting for Sounds to open so I could sell them back some CDs. It's what Kiev was perfect for: a quick, comfortable bite to eat, where pretty much everything on the menu could at least be counted on not to suck.

          I guess youse all missed the article in the Times a while back, in which it was noted that Kiev's owner had "become more interested in his real estate holdings than the restaurant" (that's a paraphrase) and had offered to let Veselka take over Kiev, but they weren't interested. My between-the-lines interpretation: owner thought he could make more money by renting the space out to the highest bidder than by running a restaurant, and Veselka didn't think it was worth the money.

          I guess I'll try Teresa's now, on the recommendations here. If only KK's could make anything other than pierogis that were worth a damn...

    2. Me three.

      It's scandalous how long it has been since I've been to Kiev, and my affection for it is totally out of proportion for the quality of the food it provided.

      It was annoying, it was fun, it was crowded (at least it used to be), it was great late at night, it was open. Most of all, it was open.

      Did business decline or ???

      2 Replies
      1. re: Dave Feldman

        I was there recently at 1:00 a.m. or so (this or later being the only time to go there) and it was packed as always. Service and food was as always pretty bad, but it was as everyone has had an E. Village landmark.

        1. re: Dave Feldman
          Frank Language

          Dave Feldman writes:
          "Did business decline or ???"

          Rumor has it that Tom Birchard (of Veselka, no less) owns the building; you do the math.

          But just to keep this thread on Kiev, I too admit I hadn't been to Kiev in years, even though I lived just as close. Since I recently read a book about this neighborhood [the former Lower East Side] in which Veselka is referred to as "Veselkbucks", I'm more than a little worried about what's going to replace the Kiev. (Even though I will freely admit to eating at Veselka and thriving. Ever since Tom's son took over as manager, that place hs been looking up; I just don't want another Veselka within shouting distance.)

        2. I heard that it closed because of their new lease being too high. For me Kiev went downhill in recent years. The food often had that weird taste that you can't identify. Jim - you call this something but I can't remember your phrase. Kiev was best at it.
          For food I wont miss it, but for drunken late night memories of the long ago past I'll surly miss it!
          For the BEST blintzes try Theresa's on 1st Ave near 7th St.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Michele

            scary non-food subliminals!

            1. re: Michele

              Who is there among us that was ever in Kiev sober? Not a one, apparently. While nostalgic about it, I too had not gone in years. And what Michele and Jim say is so true--Teresa's is head and shoulders above other Ukrainian and Polish places in the East Village. Great soups, good homefries, delicious pancakes, etc.

            2. Is Veselka still there? Maybe not genuine Ukrainian but I believe it used to be open 24/7, had great brownies and was a decent place to plan a revolution.

              17 Replies
              1. re: magnolia

                I won't go in Veselka. I find their food not just bad, but scary. For some reason it's the favorite "dive" of a few fancy chefs/food writers. Chowhounds tend to opt for Teresa's (first and seventh), though the recent makeover was pretty weird. Somebody built them the wrong restaurant. But the food's still the same.

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  All one has to know about how vile Veselka is can be summed up by an experience my friend Bill had there a couple of years ago on his (of course) very last visit. He ordered pancakes, only to watch in astonishment as the "cook" took some pre-made pancakes from a plate and tossed them into the microwave!

                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    normally I don't differ from you that radically... but I love Veselka.

                    I mean, the hot borscht is out of this world. Like, life-changingly good. For that alone I give it a high rating.



                    1. re: Patrick A.
                      Frank Language

                      "I mean, the hot borscht is out of this world. Like, life-changingly good. For that alone I give it a high rating."

             last someone who dares to disagree with the Supreme Hound. Thanks; although Veselka is The Place I Love to Hate and an overpriced dive, I still go there about four days a week for my morning muffin.

                      And I will agree the hot borscht is among the best I've had; in the summer, though, I always get the cold borscht. With the egg and the bread (althogh, alas, not the challah of yore) it makes a meal.

                    2. re: Jim Leff

                      Jim, I totally agree with you and stopped going to Veselka quite some time ago. I had more than one "scary" meal at Veselka (my own fault!). Anyone like Odessa on Avenue A?

                      1. re: mitchw

                        I think Odessa just plain sucks, FWIW. The last time I actually ordered anything there, they gave me brine which passed for chicken soup on their menu. I was unable to eat it and sent it back. My substitute (split pea soup, I think) was also too salty, though not quite as bad. It's been years since I found anything there decent.

                        My recommendation would be to go to Teresa's. I also had a good meal at the Ukranian National Home last year or so (nothing that recently).

                        1. re: Michael

                          A good friend of mine lives above Odessa, so that was our late late night spot for a time. The soups are terrible and should be avoided at all costs (ditto the potato pancakes), but the pierogies and french fries are quite tasty at 3am. However, I haven't been in a while due to something that could perhaps fall under the heading of "scary nonfood subliminals": the last two times we stopped in, our snacking was interrupted by the arrival of EMS units to drag od'ing women out of the bathroom...

                      2. re: Jim Leff

                        I've weighed in on Veselka before. Yes, I prefer Teresa's, which is much more consistent and definitely much better for soups and pierogi. But Veselka ranges from very good to pretty bad, and if you know what they make well, you can have a nice meal there. I sometimes get cravings for their raspberry blintzes.

                        I have to say that I didn't have much use for Kiev, though I was a bit surprised it closed after so many years. I hope that the landlord didn't raise the rent so much that the new renters have to open some yuppified upscale place and further destroy the neighborhood. :-) [chuckle]

                        1. re: Michael

                          "Veselka ranges from very good to pretty bad, and if you know what they make well, you can have a nice meal there."

                          Strong disagree.

                          As I've mentioned before, Veselka makes borscht exactly like my dear departed Russian grandmother, and thus has a stranglehold on my repeated business. As I go there so regularly for my dose, I am extremely familiar with the place and its (very limited) menu.

                          The service is slow (about on par with the food court at Yankee Stadium, where the ratio of server to patron is 1:1), the food is often not fully-microwaved, and there's not a goddamn thing on the menu that can't be had better within a two block radius. Sadly, a couple of those better items were at Kiev, so now I have to walk, maybe three blocks instead.

                          The only other plausible reason to go to veselka is that it's open 24 hours.

                          1. re: keith k

                            It's been a while, but I also think Veselka has (or at least had) the only decent sauerkraut and mushroom pierogi in the neighborhood. The ones at Teresa's (which I otherwise love) taste astonishingly like soap.

                            1. re: keith k

                              OK, Keith:

                              So tell me who makes raspberry blintzes that are like Veselka's, only better. I want to go there.

                              1. re: Michael

                                two-part answer

                                1-you win. if raspberry is the challenge, then there's no competition. i walked around the neighborhood, and no one else uses this topping. so veselka has got you by the berries.

                                2-regarding blintzes in general, almost anyone makes them better than veselka's pre-cooked, griddle warmed, koala-gold-vegetable-oil-fried product.

                                the restaurant right around the corner on the east side of 2nd ave between 8th and 7th does them right, pan fried with crispy edges. poland restaurant on 2nd ave around 12th street or so also does a fine job, and they have the best soups around.

                                sadly, this is one of the few things that the lamented kiev did very well.

                          2. re: Jim Leff

                            This thread ended ages ago, but I'm responding anyway. I was a huge fan of Kiev, never been to Theresa's, enjoy Odessa Cafe, always been lukewarm on Veselka. The 2nd Avenue Deli (admittedly somewhat different cuisine) is so close by, whenever I'm in Veselka, I find myself wondering why I'm just not at the deli.

                            1. re: DaveGaffen

                              On that subject, is the 2nd Avenue Deli still great? Who is in charge now? (I haven't been since the owner was tragically killed awhile back...)

                              1. re: magnolia

                                His daughter runs the place now. I've heard
                                that the quality has deteriorated but I
                                haven't paid a visit since they renovated
                                the interior. I used to like the old grungy

                                1. re: christina z

                                  I was there yesterday, and it wasn't the same as the old days. Still pretty good, but.....

                                  Of course, I only had 1 meal, so I may have just not hit it on the right day.

                                  1. re: Peter

                                    2nd Ave. Deli varies wildly. The chopped liver is fairly consistently yummy (way better than Carnegie which is grossly creamy and preternaturally smooth) but not as good as Barney Greengrass...). The corned beef and pastrami can still be great (the "twin" combo of corned-beef and pastrami on two "mini" onion rolls is a personal favorite (only in this context can they be considered small)), but on occasion have a strange taste or misplaced gristle and the roast beef which I used to love now seems like its coming from central deli supply. The kasha varnishkes are dry and flavorless and don't hold a candle to Carnegie, and if you ask for a side of gravy it definitely comes from some sort of mix.

                                    That said - the sour tomatoes are still the best pickle in NY, and the emotional experience of standing online for takeout on Xmas day takes me back to childhood and makes me feel as one with my fellow Jewish NYers....