The last time Kat and I found ourselves in the East Village on our way to Big Gay Ice Cream, we passed Veselka at the corner of 2nd Avenue and 9th Street. We both expressed desires to try the spot famous for serving Ukrainian food to the masses for the past 50 years. I made a mental note of it for our next date *and* the return of my favorite foodie feature, “Global Bites without the Flights.”
That next date came a few weeks ago when a catch-up session with my favorite neighbor from college was long overdue. We dined al fresco as there won’t be many more nights you can comfortably sit outside for a whole meal and a cold beer. The beer of our choice was of course a Ukrainian one, Obolon, fresh from Kiev, which we both enjoyed.
When thinking about Ukrainian cuisine, pierogis come to mind quickly. At Veselka, there are eight varieties on the menu. Since Kat and I did not want to make some of the pierogis feel bad about themselves, we ordered a plate with one of each, steamed instead of fried. The best pierogis in my opinion happened to be the more traditional ones – potato, cheese, and “meat,” which turned out to be some sort of beef. The spinach + cream cheese, goat cheese, and broccoli + cheese were also tasty. I have to admit, I did not love the sauerkraut + mushroom or the sweet potato ones.
Kat and I also split a Beef Stroganoff (sliced beef, slow-simmered, in a mushroom sauce, over egg noodles). This was a safe order but it screamed “comfort food” to me, so we went with it over the Borscht, a traditional soup made of beetroot. I don’t know if I like beets, and a soup full of beet juice is probably not a subtle enough way for me to find out.
You really shouldn’t do a Global Bites without a dessert, but instead of something from the dessert menu, we chose a breakfast item. We ordered a Blintz, a crepe-like dish stuffed with a “lightly sweetened Farmer’s cheese” and served with applesauce, raspberry, and a sweet cream. It was delicious but was probably *too* stuffed with the cheese. I couldn’t finish my half. I did finish my beer though. That’s what really counts.