Ukrainian East Village – A Ukrainian Christmas on 2nd Avenue, New York City

Ukrainian East Village
140 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 614-3283

by CD Davidson-Hiers

Ukrainian East Village

Ukrainian East Village

 

Ukrainian East Village is situated off 2nd Avenue in New York City, down a starched white hallway and around a corner to the left. On the right is a sign leading to the bathrooms down a set of stairs where the air sits cool, anticipating. The double doors to the restaurant are wood, which open into a room that, true to its name, is similar to a small village where diners can enjoy food as close to the Ukrainian original as possible.

 

Ukrainian East Village Interior

Ukrainian East Village Interior

 

We waited for a moment before being escorted to a table where we were handed menus full of options: pierogis, kasha varnishkes, blintzes, and nalysnykys. We referred to wikipedia more than once to determine the ingredients of the Ukrainian staples. Though this restaurant did not have any listed vegan meals, there were a couple vegetarian options that the chef, on Christmas Day when the restaurant was slam-packed full of festivity-seekers, was more than happy to tailor to suit our vegan requirements.

 

Borsht

Borsht

 

Danielle ordered the Ukrainian borscht, served warm, with beets, carrots, red kidney beans, and very little oil. I had a taste of the soup and wished I had a larger stomach to justify ordering a second round. I ate the vegetable soup which had its own flavorful taste, but lacked the heartiness of the borscht. The vegetables in my soup were primarily green, topped with a sprinkle of dill in a warm vegetable broth. It was a filling first course that went well with the bread served.

Vegetable Soup

Vegetable Soup

There were two types of bread served in a bread basket. One was reminiscent of sweet French bread, but was light and fluffy with a brown exterior. The other type was more of a darker, wheat color with a sharper taste. Both went very well with the soups.

 

Cabbage rolls stuffed with mushrooms and topped with a savory red sauce. Served with a side of kasha.

Cabbage rolls stuffed with mushrooms and topped with a savory red sauce. Served with a side of kasha.

 

The meals were of a variety. The carnivores in our group catered to their meat palate by ordering pierogis stuffed with meat and a ruben with fries. The vegan meals were delicious and tailored to our dietary needs, as we had told the waitress that we followed certain dairy and meat restrictions. The kitchen was more than willing to cater to our needs, customizing their vegetarian meals so that the food did not include butter, milk, or cheese. Danielle ordered mushroom and rice stuffed cabbages that I followed suit in requesting. We also asked that the mushroom sauce over the cabbages be replaced by a tomato sauce so we avoided the dairy cream. It was served with kasha (made from buckwheat and tasting slightly of black-eyed peas) that was a substitution for the mashed potatoes the meal usually comes with. Rich ate a potato patty stuffed with cabbage and carrots (or, perhaps, sweet potatoes) with a lightly breaded, lightly seared outside. The patty was the best meal of all the things we ordered, and I’m tempted to go back for several more to take home.

 

Potato Schnitzel served with assorted vegetables and a side of kasha. Hands down, our favorite dish.

Potato Schnitzel served with assorted vegetables and a side of kasha. Hands down, our favorite dish.

 

This place was a life-saver. We had been trekking through the streets of New York City searching for a certain restaurant called Veselka that had been recommended by a family we had met earlier on the ferry over from Staten Island. They raved about the food Veselka served, but when we arrived, the cook informed us that they had no food lacking in dairy or meat products. Turned away and hungry, we found the sign for Ukrainian East Village and followed the arrows inside.

 

Garden Salad

Garden Salad

 

Though we could not offer a 100 percent guarantee that none of the foods there were prepared with dairy, we took the waitress’s word for it, could not detect flavors of animal products in our food, and none of us suffered the after-effects of ingesting animal products.

 

Danielle and CD preparing to chow down on veggie options offered at Ukrainian East Village Restaurant

Danielle and CD preparing to chow down on veggie options offered at Ukrainian East Village Restaurant

CD Davidson-Hiers is in her second year at FSU as a double major in French and English. As an aspiring writer, she craves adventure and exposure while attempting to maintain her flagging interest in higher education. She is a practicing triathlete, plays the violin, and reads voraciously. She became involved with Veggin’ Out and About late in 2014 and began writing for the blog at the turn of the year.

Contact Catherine Deborah to recommend a restaurant, talk about anything plant-based, discuss literary works, or even pose an unanswerable philosophical question.

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