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Nov 1, 1999 07:21 AM

ukrainian food

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I have a desire for good home style Ukrainian/Polish food in NYC or the surrounding burroughs. Please tell me where to find such great food.

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  1. j
    Jessica Shatan

    Well, there are quite a few in the E. village but my fave is KK on the corner of 12th St. and 1st Ave. in Manhattan. It has a garden in the back, too. Is a little more laid back and quiet than the ever-popular Veselka and Kiev which are just blocks away, not sure of addresses.

    KK has the stamp of approval from my Polish friends, too.

    I had bigos the other night at Veselka but it wasn't as good as at KK. The onions that came with the pierogis at Veselka were also bitter and I know they are better at KK, too.

    1. I hate Veselka, will only eat in Kiev for certain things at certain times. Teresa's is probably the most consistently good (esp. soups), Ukranian National Kitchen (or whatever it's called, on 2nd ave) is pretty good but not great. In Brooklyn, you're better off Slovak (go to Milan's in the east slope). Tania's in Jersey City was the best in the area but has gone downhill, I've heard.

      Ukranian ladies used to sell homemade pierogis in the basement of the ukranian church on 7th street (I think between 2 and 3 ave) certain afternoons...if the still do, check 'em out.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Jim Leff
        Jessica Shatan

        So, big dog, what are "certain things" at "certain times" that you refer to at Kiev. I'm dying to know.

        I had stuffed derma there the last time I was there years ago at about 1 a.m. I think I only liked it because I was starving. (Gosh, how an appetite can cloud your judgement!)

        You should try KK (12th St./1st Ave) sometime (see my post) as it is a step above. (And hopefully does NOT have pumpkin pierogis like at Veselka--shudder...)

        BTW: I will not purport to say that KK is THE BEST (inside message board joke :-) But really it is just good if you're in the area...........

        1. re: Jessica Shatan

          At Kieve, stick to simple things that don't depend on skill or freshness or delicacy. Matzoh brei, french toast, apple pancakes, pierogis (if slightly drunk and real late), soups (depends on the soup). Stuffed derma was probably a mistake. Chicken might be fatal. But that other stuff is perfectly fine. Later, drunker, and hungrier, it actually turns into a haven (though I usually head down to Kam Chueh under those conditions).

          I think Veselka's an absolute pit, and get a chuckle at all the Serious Food people who condescendingly treaure it as their little ethnic hideaway of choice. Says a lot about some of the Serious Food People (why isn't Rinconcito Peruano a household name in this food-obsessed city? Sorry, I'm digressing in my annoyance).

          You know about the pierogi ladies at the church?

          1. re: Jim Leff
            Jessica Shatan

            The devotion some have for Veselka cracks me up too. For these people non-sicilian italian is 'ethnic'.
            I have succeeded there with the matzoh brie, too. Sometimes you need to know what to do when you are out with non-hounds and have to make the best of a not-so-good place.
            The lateness of the hour, the amount of alcohol and the level of hunger sure do affect things!!
            I will have to check out the pierogi ladies.......
            P.S. Meant to say I like Teresa's, too....didn't mean for my other post to ignore your suggestions!

            1. re: Jessica Shatan

              My favorite pierogis (and sauerkraut soup!) are at Raymund's in Willliamsburg - Bedford and N. 10th. You might also want to try another Teresa's (not related) on 8th Ave near 40t Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Their potato pierogis are huge but very tender.

              1. re: Jessica Shatan

                At the risk of drawing near-universal ridicule on this board, I, too, will talk about Polish/Ukranian restaurants in the East Village. I live just around the corner from Teresa's, so it's _my_ diner, and it's definitely a cut above usual diner fare. What I like there is not limited to their previously-mentioned soups and Polish fare, but includes their pancakes.

                I've never much liked Kiev or Odessa, and I prefer to go to Veselka's for late-night food. Some of their soups are quite acceptable to me, e.g. their split-pea soup, and - surprise, surprise! - their chili con carne is quite acceptable, as far as I'm concerned. I also find their raspberry cheese blintzes, though not cheap, to be a somewhat decadent and pleasant way to satisfy a sweet tooth's craving. I do agree that there's nothing special about their pierogis, and I don't normally order them (I tried the pumpkin pierogis once and DID NOT LIKE THEM).

                I went to the Ukranian National Home a couple of weeks ago for the first time. The ambiance was quiet and pleasant (classical music!). The food was authentic, pleasant, and solid, though nothing outstanding.

                I have yet to try KK's or other restaurants further north. Any more plugs for KK's?


                P.S. The delis in the neighborhood have wonderful poppy strudel. Try the stores just south of 7th St. on the west side of 1st Av., for example.

                1. re: Michael

                  "At the risk of drawing near-universal ridicule on this board, I, too, will talk about Polish/Ukranian restaurants in the East Village"

                  Ouch...hope these boards don't really give out so intimidating a vibe!

                  I totally agree about the pancakes, first of all (I also like the simple boiled carrots at Teresa's). Yes, soups are the best order at Veselka, but mentioning blintzes reminds me that they're kinda ok all over the nabe. I don't do Odessa much, either, but like their breakfast ok and their fried pierogis are all right.

                  My impression of the Ukranian National Home is the same: nice ambiance, and utterly unmemorable (amnesia-inducing??) food.

                  Doesn't ANYBODY but me get pierogis in the basement of the church on 7th street from the old women? Actually, I haven't been in years; not even sure they still do it...


                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    Re: Jim's remarks on Odessa:

                    Odessa is acceptable if you concentrate on simple things. Their pierogis are fine, and their soups are OK. Just don't get anything complicated.

                    I have to say that I find Veselka better as a general restaurant than Odessa. OK, folks, flame away. :-)


              2. re: Jim Leff

                I'd go a bit further in my praise of Kiev: their soups are uniformly great, and their cheese blintzes are the best anywhere (IMHO). The vegetarian chopped liver is a pleasant surprise. And one unusual soup served, I think, on Sundays, is Ukrainian Pickle Soup and tastes a bit like pickle chowder. Weird and great.

                I'd also go further in condemnation of Veselka. The service is horrendous, the food is often not microwaved all-the-way-through, and every dish except the borscht is made better elsewhere. (The borscht however tastes exactly like my grandmother's, so I'm biased here...and that's why I'm compelled to visit now and then).

                I live on that block, on I laugh audibly at the waiting lines, when there are 6 restaurants in close proximity with better food and service.

                1. re: keith k

                  "the food is often not microwaved all-the-way-through"


                  1. re: Jim Leff
                    Steven Stern

                    While I agree with just about everything that's been said here (Teresa's is definitely the best of the E. Village/E. European crowd), I just wanted to take an unpopular position and put in a few words in support of Veselka.

                    Its status as a "destination" (as they say in da business) is admittedly baffling, and the pierogies, etc. are truly lame...however I think it's useful to think of it not as a bad Ukrainian restaurant, but as a pretty good coffee shop. Eggs are cooked right, burgers are done on a grill, BLTs have tomatoes that usually taste something like tomatoes. I don't think Kiev does basic diner food as well as this. And the counter actually makes a pleasant place for solo dining, reading a magazine, and watching all the ridiculous people who came for the food.

                    This isn't chowhound logic talking, I know, but gimme a BLT on challah toast, a Pilner Urquell, and a good book, and I'm pretty darn happy to be there.

                2. re: Jim Leff

                  maybe its a symptom of middle age, but we much prefer the restaurant in the Ukrainian National Home to Kiev etc. A slower pace, decent table spacing, civilized noise level. Food solid and homey - good long-cooked pot-roasty meats, soup, etc. along with apple pancakes, pierogi and the rest - not stellar but satisfying, and the setting is infinitely more pleasant. Sometimes on weekends, a wedding is happening in the back room, which adds an element of fun. Clientele is predominantly ethnic or aging/aged bohemian intellectual types.

                  Good to see the recs of Teresa's, KK etc. - were the addresses mentioned?

            2. Excuse me ... I know I've posted about this place before, but it's just so good I can't help but tell you all (who feel strongly, as I do) about this exceptional home style food. I don't know if you're willing to travel to Woodbridge, NJ, but if you are, you should really try Polanka on Main Street. The food is super clean and fresh -- fresh parsley over the chicken noodle (handmade noodles) soup; fresh snipped dill garnishing the stuffed cabbage and the cabbage & noodle. The flavors are all bright and, I swear, you can taste the love she puts in it. The owner is the cook and she has told me that to her the most important factor in her cooking is to use the best ingredients. Now in this part of New Jersey, that's a rarity!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Deborah
                Frank Language

                "Excuse me ... I know I've posted about this place before, but it's just so good I can't help but tell you all (who feel strongly, as I do) about this exceptional home style food. I don't know if you're willing to travel to Woodbridge, NJ, but if you are, you should really try Polanka on Main Street."

                Hey, Jim: next time we make a run to Dillon Music (House of Classic Brass, also in Woodbridge), we'll have to check this one out.