Disclaimer:This Ukrainian eatery has since closed its doors to business. I shed tears. The food was incredibly delicious and the service was absolutely outstanding.
I have decided that I will never leave Chicago. Sure we have some of the harshest winters. Then again, it could be worse. This could be Minnesota. Sure we have constant traffic congestion. Then again, it could be New York City. Oh, wait, traffic does flow there. Bad analogy. But one thing we do have that is hard to beat elsewhere — except for New York City — is an abundance of good restaurants. Oh happy day!
We found ourselves on the Northwest side of downtown in the Ukrainian Village for eats. Ukrainian eats became the cuisine, by default. The spot for our adventure was the Ukrainian Village Restaurant. It’s more like a bar than it is a restaurant. Located at 2301 W. Chicago Avenue, you would think you were walking into someone’s home. And it does feel like you have gone to someone’s house, indeed. Because it is more of a bar or lounge, there is the possibility that some customer is having a grand old time puffing away on a cigarette at the bar. The good thing is we sat far enough away that the smoke did not prompt any of us to stand up and give a no-smoking campaign speech.
Joined by two other individuals, we commenced to ordering all the good things on the menu. “What would that be, Gino?” Well, I’m glad you asked. We all started out with individual bowls of Borscht. This is the second restaurant we have gone to where Borscht has been on the menu, the first restaurant being Russian where Borscht is a main staple and this one. Borscht is a beet soup. The thing with this Borscht soup is that it had some beef in it and it was warm, unlike the Borscht that we had at the Russian restaurant. Served up with sour cream, it was absolutely tasty. We all but belched after we downed the soup.
After we finished our soup, it was then time to get family-style. Knowing that most European countries like the Ukraine are heavy on meats and potatoes, we truly got involved with ordering our share of “stick to your ribs” goodies. What we thought was manageable when it came to the table turned out to be way more than we expected — big things do come in small packages, or rather, big optical illusion kind of portions come on moderately size plates. We had kapusta & kobassa, holubtsy, varenyky, plyatsky, and Ukrainian burger. I know your mouths are watering, so let me just tell you all about the yummy items that filled our plates and bellies. The kapusta & kobassa were tasty sauerkraut served with Ukrainian sausage. There were none left on the plate after we were done. The holubtsy were cabbage rolls filled with meat and rice, basted with a tangy tomato sauce. We gobbled up that and smirked at how much we enjoyed eating it. The varenyki was delicate dough filled with potato, cheese, kapusta, and meat, covered with mushroom gravy. Yes, we did the combination and hummed our own little individual ditties in our head as we showed the other patrons that we don’t play when it comes down to eating good food. It doesn’t stop there. We downed the plyatsky, which were fried potato pancakes seasoned with onions and spices, served with sour cream. After eating those pancakes, my new mantra is “Pancakes aren’t just for breakfast any more.” Those things were so delicious that it was stupid. I think that what defeated us were the Ukrainian burgers. Those were rolled ground meats with a mixture of herbs and spices — not eleven herbs and spices like Kentucky Fried Chicken — served with kapusta and mushroom gravy. It was around this time that we were getting very, very sleepy.
Because there was a Ukrainian festival taking place across the street from the restaurant, much of the food had been prepared and taken to the festival so that those there could have hearty meals and deep sleeps afterwards. The kitchen didn’t lack, though, and what we had more than spoke to the fact that Ukrainian Village does satisfy even when they are being diligent supporting the community in their various events and festivals.
Because the food was so filling, we could not think about desserts. But that did not mean we didn’t eventually have desserts. Oh, no! We ended up at an Austrian restaurant late on that evening moaning and groaning as we took our various teas and desserts that I will use from now on in my blackmailing attempts. Because we have not formally done Austrian for the restaurant diary, we will go for an evening and I will then write about it. I won’t even give the name now, but rest assure that each time I have gone, it has been outstanding.
Ukrainian Village Restaurant was well worth the trip to the near Northwest side of downtown. Now that I live a short distance from there now, I will venture back on occasion during some of the cold, winter days for some of their filling delights to pander to my food rapture. Hell, I may make that trip any time. The price is right — and, no, my name is not Bob Barker — but you will smile a wide smile at how cheap the food is for the amount that you get and for how yummy it is. And on that note, I shall go paint my picket sign for boycotting suburban fair like, well, I won’t say. You know which ones. Hahahahahaaaa!!!!