Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Classic Ukrainian Fare at Veselka

The East Village is home to a whole lot of amazing food. When I lived in the neighborhood from 2008-2009, I was lucky enough to live on one of the most amazing food streets in NYC, East 7th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A. Without a doubt, Veselka Ukrainian restaurant is a New York City institution. Not only is it open 24 hours, 7 days a week, but it serves up some of the best grub this city has to offer.
(photo courtesy of yonyc.net)
Once I heard the restaurant had celebrated its 55-year anniversary, I knew it truly had to be something special. In a city where nothing is permanent and restaurants come and go on a daily basis, 55 years is like 10 lifetimes in the restaurant world. I have a feeling there's good reason for this.

A few Fridays ago, Patrick and I were hungry and wandering around the East Village looking for some grub. We had put down a few beers at Schillers and we were both craving some good comfort food. We were lucky to get a table for two outside on the sidewalk and opened the giant menu to make our selections.

While neither of us had ever had borscht before, we were intrigued by the bright pink liquid being served around us. Since it was warm out that night, we ordered the Cold Borscht and I have to say, it was such a hot shade of pink when it came to the table that I was almost afraid to try it.But I'm so glad I did! It was actually very tasty. The broth was rich and bright with the the flavor of beets, but was not overpowering at all. The egg was a delicious addition to the soup. I could have done without all the onions floating in the broth, but I really enjoyed the borscht and was happy to try it.

Next we ordered a plate of pierogi, which are Ukrainian dumplings. We got 7 of them, boiled, with a variety of fillings: 2 cheese (for me), 2 arugula & goat cheese (to split), 2 meat (for Pat) and 1 sweet potato (for me).They were all really good, but the sweet potato was definitely my favorite. The plate came with apple sauce and sour cream, and I immediately wished we had ordered 7 more.

Finally, I ordered myself a potato pancake. Patrick ordered Goulash which is veal braised in a creamy herb sauce with mashed potatoes. I was way too full for something that heavy, but the potato pancake was perfect for me. I've eaten a lot of potato pancakes in my day, and I have to say, this was the best one I've ever had.It was crispy and flaky and there wasn't one drop of grease to be found. The flavor was incredible and the texture was perfect. This also came with apple sauce and sour cream and once I finished the delightful dish, I was incredibly full.

A friend told me Veselka allegedly has some of the city's most delicious pancakes, so I definitely plan to return for either brunch or 4am pancakes sometime soon.

What's your favorite classic restaurant, whether in NYC or somewhere else?

Let's Eat!
-The Fabulous Foodie

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