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Quick Veselka review

Had dinner there last night. Diner-esque atmosphere, and the place felt solid and old-school, well-worn and appreciated. I ordered the vegetarian combo plate (2 cheese and 2 potato pierogies, and a meatless cabbage) and a blintz appetizer. Food overall was respectable but nothing spectacular. The meatless cabbage was a little bland for my taste. The pierogies were decent for what they were, but did not stand out as being particularly succulent. The blintz was the best dish, with its combination of dipping sauces -- raspberry sauce, sour cream, and apple sauce. These complimented the blintz's soft texture and mildly sweet cheese, and the sauces worked well against each other.

Overall: cheap, decent food. Nothing wowed me.

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  1. Veselka has good borscht. Not vegetarian though.

    1. Go back for breakfast. Brilliant pancakes, bacon the likes of which I've never had anywhere else, great coffee & sausages, plus the usual Ukranian/Jewish suspects. Oh, & excellent bagels as well. Can you tell I miss it?

      1. "Overall: cheap, decent food. Nothing wowed me."

        It's not so "mom & pop" as it once was, but that's pretty much what it's been for several decades...

        1. I like the food at Veselka, but I hate the service. It's one of the few places I've actually walked out of, all because of staff rudeness.

          7 Replies
          1. re: piccola

            I still have not been to Veselka and you just confirmed why I should stick to the restaurant in nearby Ukrainian National Home . . . Just like babci used to make, dinner and drinks for two are a value.

            1. re: financialdistrictresident

              Funny - I discovered UNH when I walked out of Veselka. Stuck to it since.

              1. re: piccola

                But that's comparing a diner to a proper, albeit neighborhood (at least used to be) restaurant. I never saw Veselka as a place to get real food except back when options were limited, which wasn't all that long ago if you're in your late 30s or older! A bowl of soup, pierogies, maybe even the occasional plate of stuffed cabbage, sure. It was fair to compare it, very favorably IMNSHO, to the old Kiev, except maybe the blintzes. but UNH was always a step above in all directions. Not to mention that while I haven't been there in quite a while, I assume they've probably gotten a bit nicer as the neighborhood gentrified around it, making a direct comparison even less apt.

              2. re: financialdistrictresident

                Doesn't UNH close kind of early? Every time I go by it I resign to try it over Veleska, yet I guess I'm in a happy rut with Veselka, mainly because of the Stella on tap. I also love the tarragon herb dressing on the salad and the soup.

                1. re: sing me a bar

                  I think UNH was actually closed for a year or two. Not sure if they have Stella (I get Guinness on tap)or when it closes but I prefer not to eat potato pancakes and a plate of pierogi late at night. I need time to walk them off. I did not care for the pierogi at Kiev. I'm particular about pierogi, so it's UNH or Greenpoint. Unless I decide to eat at Veselka and give their peirogi "the babci test."

              3. re: piccola

                I agree. The service was blatantly rude when I went in with a friend (late night, not crowded) for "just" some pie and coffee. The waiter actually rolled his eyes at us and made a big sigh when we ordered. We left. It's the first time I've ever walked out of a place, and I'm usually not very touchy when it comes to service. Most of the other clients appeared to be trustafarian hipsters slamming back bottles of "Stella" and eating big plates of greasy food.

              4. I haven't been there in quite some time, but I used to enjoy their bigos.

                1. I have been eating at Veselka since my NYU days (I guess that makes me a Trustafarian-cool!), and I still love it, though probably more for nostalgic purposes than for the food/service. The cheese blintzes with raspberry are my favorite dish there (can't be beat, IMO),and I used to get them for dessert (!) because I never cared ofr any of their proper dessert items. I will also get the pierogies with sour cream and apple sauce, too... just because. They also happen to serve a great cup of American coffee (at least they used to), and that's coming from someone who drinks almost exclusively espresso. Good pancakes. I haven't been in a while, and I'm thinking it may be time to go back.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: vvvindaloo

                    It was on a drunken stumble back towards University Place that I first discovered Veselka's and it is probably a combination of nostalgia and force-of-habit that keep me going there. I've never been there before 1am, so I can't tell what service is like during non-bleary hours, but it's been decent-to-okay whenever I've been. And while any sort of fried food tastes AMAZING to a drunk, I have always found Veselka's to be just "okay."

                  2. The cheese blintzes and the kitchen-sink borscht are superb. The rest of the food is ordinary. The atmosphere is rude, chaotic and Death Metal noisy.

                    Get a quart of borscht to take out plus a container of sour cream from the bodega across the street and eat it at home. It's plenty for two people.

                    1. their meatless options are never as good as their meaty ones- The meat combo plate is definitely better than the veg version. The soups are usually terrific, lentil, all the versions of borscht, (hot, cold, vegetarian), the pancakes are really good. The meat filling for pierogies and cabbage can be a little cat-foody in my opinion- mystery meat ground fine fine fine. cheese blintzes are great. I always want to order the bigos, "hearty meal fit for a hunter" the sign says, but always cop out.

                      1. "Overall: cheap, decent food. Nothing wowed me."

                        My sentiments, exactly. At first I thought I just didn't like Ukranian food--but I've since had home cooking and realized I just don't like Veselka.

                        1. Aren't the burgers supposed to be killer at this place? Just wondering...

                          what are the favourites on the pierogy fillings?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: funkjester

                            The burgers are pretty good, and the meat is a bit better quality than your standard diner burger.

                            As for periogi, I too find the "meat" filling to be a little off-putting. It's sweet potato and regular potato for me. Or if I'm feeling fancy, the monthly special -- goat cheese and spinach or pumpkin have always treated me right. Sorry, traditionalists.

                            1. re: funkjester

                              My favorite filling is the traditional potato, I've been known to get the mushroom as well, but I always end up liking the potato better, but that's what I grew up on.

                              1. re: funkjester

                                I'd go so far as to defend the burgers as excellent, all the more so because you can get them at any time day or night. I have no hesitations ordering their burger rare when the mood strikes me, and it always has an unmistakably smoky char-broiled flavor.

                                On a less enthusiastic note, the service makes me grind my teeth just thinking about it.

                              2. I've been going for years but dropped out when the prices got too high. Still, the place can be a life saver with a picky crowd, noisy kids, vegetarians... I miss the Russian guy who used to intone "Back is Closed" back when there was a back, but I don't miss the old school East Village junkies who would duck into the bathroom to shoot up!

                                1. The blintzes with the raspberry sauce are the best! The food isn't as good as my Grandma's but I find it works in a pinch when I'm craving Ukranian comfort food. I sually prefer Odessa, but I find Odessa does some things better than Veselka (like pierogies). But then the borscht and stuffed cabbage are better at Veselka IMO. So I guess it depends on what you're eating.
                                  Also I find Veselka messes up their take away orders too often. Once it was the wrong pierogies, another time my husband brought home the blintzes for me and the raspberry sauce was actually some weird sweet and sour sauce or bbq?? You just don't do that to a pregnant woman!

                                  1. Try Stage Restaurant (next to the Stomp Theatre), two blocks down instead....It's what Veselka used to be. Great Pierogis and Borscht!

                                    1. Veselka is good but Little Poland blows it out of the water. Unless it's late night and LP is closed there's no choice there at all.