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ukrainian national home - yum!

after aimless walking and trying to figure out how to satisfy a craving for crunchy, homey, filling food, ukrainian national home appeared (well actually we were headed to veselka for their borscht and their burger) but . . . . why not try something new? down the sterile white hallway we went into a very cute, cozy elegant room where there were a buncha people eating already! so that was good (they could've even been ukrainian!)

we had a small meal between the two of us:

+ bowl of borscht
+ pork chop breaded and fried, served with salad, kasha, red cabbage
+ sauerkraut and mushroom pierogi

on the table was good challah and brown bread. the meal was perfect! the borscht was served kinda hot, very chunk and filled with all manner of vegetables; nice deep flavor. the pork chop was perfect; lotta garlic in the marinade, nice crunchy bits, not too many suspect fatty chunks (kinda missed those) maybe a tad dry but, excellent. salad was simple green salad, kasha was great and red cabbage (cold) was also really nice, a little acidic, cooked with red onion, great foil to the pork chop. pierogi were dense and satisfying (we ordered boiled); came with the sour cream, onions, etc. and between the various plates, dishes and piles of food, we made a pretty good dent (taking home about half).

the place was filled with various people chowing down; the prices were excellent! I'd strongly suggest for a casual group meal where everyone will leave full and satisfied, for little money. waitstaff were nice if not a little bit . . . . quiet? good times tho. I used to go to stage restaurant all the time, I may just have to start coming here instead.

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Ukrainian East Village Restaurant
140 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

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  1. This is one of my regular, haimish neighborhood haunts. In fact, I was there for dinner yesterday.

    1. I had a great time there last weekend. I was with two friends from London, and we had just seen the Richard Foreman opera across the street. It was the perfect place to continue our surreal experience... There was a tango class in the back room that looked like it was conducted in slow motion, with a soundtrack that sounded like scratchy 78's, a randomly ringing doorbell, and some very good, very filling Ukranian food: excellent pierogies (do they come from pierogi deli?) goulash, giant latkes, lots of vodka.

      6 Replies
      1. re: hungrycomposer

        I thought they always pipe Light FM into the restaurant.

        I think this place serves dependable, honest food. I'd never call it great and still miss the East Village branch of Teresa's, but it is a fair value and I'm glad the place still exists.

        1. re: Pan

          I'd rank it above Little Poland and Neptune, and below Theresa's. The place is so unusual it's fun to bring people who haven't been there.

          The tango lesson was on a Friday night. It's like going to Eastern Europe without the jet lag. And the music sounds like somebody is cranking an ancient victrola in the back.

          1. re: hungrycomposer

            Oh yeah, tango night. Yeah, that does sound like an old stereo system is playing - which is probably true.

            The restaurant has a kind of somewhat faded but still elegant Old-World charm.

        2. re: hungrycomposer

          Psssst ...........how was the play? and when is it over ?

          1. re: scunge

            The play is long over... The post was from April 2009.

        3. Their meat pierogies are my favorite. I don't really like pierogies from anywhere else. I love the challah that they serve before the meal too. Does this place remind anyone else of a church basement? Love it.

          12 Replies
          1. re: janethepain

            You should try the pierogi deli on 1st avenue just south of saint mark's if you want to cook them at home - they taste very similar, if not the same.
            Do you mean the church basement where they sold pierogies in the East Village? I was trying to go to that place for ages, are they closed? Or do you just mean a church basement in general...?

            1. re: hungrycomposer

              surely in general! especially the bathrooms. but funny and not surprising if there really were some pierogies being sold in some EV church!

              1. re: bigjeff

                There was a story in the NYT about a Ukranian church on 5th st. that sold pierogies made by some older Ukranian ladies. I walked by many a Sunday but always found it closed.

                Those bathrooms used to be a little creepy, once the place filled up with drunks from the "Sly Fox" bar... The long hall and staircase.... I imagined coming home short a kidney or two.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Thanks, Kathryn, that's fantastic! I was looking on 7th st. (got the street wrong in my post) but I think I always got there after 3. I've posted questions here in the past and never got a reply, I'm dying to try it!

                    1. re: hungrycomposer

                      It's actually in a basement with older Ukrainian women cooking and a very limited menu (borscht & pierogi etc.) but worth a stop. North side of the street and down the street from the Ukrainian Church.

                      1. re: scoopG

                        Yeah, just west of the northwest corner of 7th and 2nd. I've had their stuff at Ukrainian festivals and found it OK. I don't think it's worth a special trip.

                        1. re: Pan

                          So it's the same ladies who sell food at the Ukranian festival at the yearly Ukranian block party? Their food is pretty good... But I swear by pierogi deli.
                          I've seen the sign up but I guess I've only walked by after 3, I didn't know they closed so early.

                        2. re: hungrycomposer

                          It's definitely tucked away a little because it's accessible from the street but basement level and with pretty minor signage. I haven't been, though.

                          1. re: kathryn

                            Yes - and the hours are limited. I'll have to compare their offerings to UNH.

              2. Thanks for publicizing Ukrainian National Home, Big Jeff -- it's an overlooked gem in the neighborhood in my humble opinion. I believe that the tango lessons happen every Friday night and it's worth checking out for the food as well as the experience.

                1. Thanks for the report, bigjeff. I have been going here forever. They were closed for a little while. Even my grandmother liked this place. Pierogi just like Babci made. They still grate their potato pancakes by hand. It would be even better if you could still go to Brewsky's afterward . . . Burp Castle has to suffice (my favorite monk is now watching over us all).

                  I ONLY get the pierogi and potato pancakes. I have heard good things about the borscht.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                    Try the borsht next time. I often have the hot borsht, and when it's available, the cold borsht. I like several of the soups at Ukrainian East Village. For example, the tripe soup is not bad, the chicken soup is pretty good, and I think I liked the mushroom soup, too.

                    1. re: Pan

                      Thanks, Pan. It's surprising I haven't tried the borscht because I love beets. This place is also budget friendly for when I leave corporate and return to substitute teaching :)

                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                        Are you going to do that? God bless you, and good luck!

                        I'd recommend trying a bunch of their soups and deciding which ones you like. Cups of soup are pretty cheap there.

                      2. re: Pan

                        ya was tempted by that tripe soup.

                    2. ate here recently and . . . not as enthused, oh no!

                      + combo platter (stuffed cabbage, pierogi, kielbasa, etc.)
                      + goulash served over potato pancake
                      + something else, but I can't remember

                      on the platter, pierogi (there were 3 or 4 different kinds) were boiled, with watery (as if the skin was too porous) fillings, not very good. stuffed cabbage was alright, bland. advertised kasha was not present, pierogi tasted like hillshire farms, sauerkraut was alright but limp and not snappy, and basically, it was a disappointing platter for $12 or so (small).

                      goulash thing was beef stew which was also quite small, perhaps not the right thing to order but still; potato pancakes were not crazy good either; well-fried, but, texture was box-y and also bland.

                      challah and other bread in the basket was stale and obviously not fresh-cut (mismatching slices and halves of slices).

                      I really don't mean to hate on the place because I like it but, maybe I ordered wrong? We passed up Veselka to stick with the "little" guys but, is there a more consistent choice for this sort of food in the area? Odessa's combo platter supposedly kicks ass; thoughts?

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: bigjeff

                        Wow, Odessa, really? I seriously doubt that!

                        My go-to place nowadays is Stage Restaurant, the little Polish lunch counter next to the Orpheum Theater where STOMP shows. Little Poland on 2nd between 12th and 13th also has some merit. Neither of those places are as good, all-round, as Teresa's was, let alone Odessa as of 20 years ago or the pierogies at the old Leshkos around the same time, but they're alright, honest food.

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                        Little Poland
                        200 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                        Stage Restaurant
                        128 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                        1. re: Pan

                          yup, I might have to go back to stage; I sincerely enjoy eating there. never been to Little Poland, what about Polania (sp?) a couple blocks down? and, slightly off-topic but . . best of Greenpoint's Polish/Ukrainian stuff? recs?

                          1. re: bigjeff

                            I am seldom in Greenpoint, and when I am, it's usually in bars late at night. I've found Polonia way too undependable to deal with. A friend of mine likes to eat there because it's cheap and says she has a way to negotiate the minefield that the menu is, but even then, the right cook has to be in the kitchen that day.

                          2. re: Pan

                            Oh yes, I do love Stage restaurant. Love their roast beef sandwich and pierogis. I'm sure I'll love other things on their menu too.

                            1. re: Pan

                              I agree, but Stage can also be uneven. I think they are actually Ukranian at Stage. I went to Ukranian NH the other night and really enjoyed the tripe soup and kotlety (fried crepes filled with potato and something else... I can't remember). Both of the places are fun for their own unique atmosphere and cheap eats more than fine dining. I've given up on Little Poland even though it's about a 30 second walk from my place - you'd do much better at Stage or UNH.

                              1. re: hungrycomposer

                                And I gave up on Ukrainian East Village because of basic quality control issues. I actually do find Stage consistent. If by uneven, you mean that not everything there is equally good, I agree.

                                1. re: Pan

                                  Some dishes are better than others at Stage. I like their corn beef hash and their pastrami sandwiches. I think the cook with the mustache is better than the heavier older guy. As prices have crept up in the neighborhood, they are still affordable, in a time warp diner kind of way. It's strange considering they haven't been around as long as one would assume - I think they opened in the 70's or 80's.
                                  I haven't had much problem with consistency at UNH, it's always been pretty good solid food. Plus you get a trip to Eastern Europe without jet lag.

                                  1. re: hungrycomposer

                                    Stage is not as cheap as it used to be. With tip, it is very possible to pay $20 for a meal, if you get a cup of soup plus pierogies, a side, and some fresh orange juice. But it is still a fair value, and boy have I been glad it was there when I had a cold and needed some good chicken soup.

                          3. I have been to Ukrainian East Villlage a number of times, most recently a couple of weeks ago, and have found it consistently good. My frame of reference is the same type of food I was raised on and it compares quite favorably. My personal favorite is the boiled beef with kasha and red cabbage. Also love the pierogis. Service can be weird but the food does seem authentic to me -- real soul food.