It’s a new restaurant serving up duzhe smachno Ukrainian fare, the name of which is the local variant – Sho, and is quite apropos
This is no small venue; in fact the 1 200m2 it occupies across two floors is easily spotted from Mechnikova, which is where it sits nestled with floor to ceiling windows, looking out upon Kyivites who hustle and bustle to and fro downtown Kyiv.
It’s a Monday night, and though the doors only opened just a couple of weeks prior, Sho has already attracted quite a clientele. Walking in, the feeling is big, bold, and clean, with sturdy wooden elements – which, I will find out later were brought in from western Ukraine – contrasting the white-as-snow clay work that features on walls and double high ceilings. A hostess in a Vita Kin dress takes me up stairs where I meet a girlfriend sipping coffee and taking in the surroundings. The table is in front of an open kitchen, which runs at least half the length of the venue itself. Though it has the feel of an old Ukrainian khata, the feel is modern and inviting, creating an interesting and relaxed juxtaposition.
Artem is our guide through the Ukrainian culinary arts this evening, and he is an energetic and engaging chaperon. He is eager to talk about Sho – how the chefs all hail from different corners of the country, that the recipes they use are in some cases more than 100 years old, and the fact that they use as many products from Ukraine as possible. As he talks, kitted out in hemp trousers and a white T, Dakha Brakha beats are just audibly in the background, fortifying the feel that this venue is indeed, all about showcasing the best of Ukraine.
My girlfriend, though married to a Ukrainian and since having lived here for years, is not up to speed on traditional Ukrainian fare, so when Artem starts bringing the food, each dish is like a new adventure. The bread basket features different slices from various loaves: black rye, corn, and white, which are used to spread on a nice light forshmak, a rich and creamy traditional egg and cheese comb, and a pate so rich and good it’s like crème brule. The Tomato & (homemade) Brynza (a traditional Ukrainian cheese) Salad is a nice light follow-up, which is good, because the main dishes are hot on its heels.
We decided to enjoy this evening ‘family style’, and so one dish each of Chicken Kyiv, Holubtsi, Deruni, and Varenyky with Potato are placed in quick succession on the table. Absolutely everything is delicious, from the creamy butter flowing from the Chicken Kyiv to the rich and creamy tomato sauce of the holubtsi. Even the deruni leave a nice aftertaste especially with the indulgently lush sour cream, which we also lather on little pillows of varenyky.
Food, not politics
After this foray into Ukr-gastro heaven, Artem takes us around to the various corners of this megalith of a restaurant, which will be able to accommodate up to 420 people once all aspects are operational. There is a pich (Ukrainian oven) in the kitchen upstairs as well as on the main floor, a bar tucked into one corner, and a space for private parties with a private kitchen tucked into another, where master classes among other things will be hosted shortly. As we walk, you can’t help but admire the five-metre tall clay chandeliers which hang in leaf-like droplets from the second-floor ceiling, opening up the space in a gallant display of chic simplicity. These and other pieces, like the branches and braids of cotton which float to the floor, are the intellection of Moscow designer XXX. Considering this is an exceptionally UA-centric venue, this comes as a surprise. “We are about the food and the experience, not politics,” Artem says confidently. And that is certainly the feeling you get.
|Rose Cava Brut Juve y Campo 1 btl
|Tomato & Brynza Salad
|Varenyky w/ Potato
|1 860 UAH
Make sure you try
There are a number of things Ukrainians are known to do very well. If you can get past the idea that jelly doesn’t have to be dessert, then the Holodets here is homemade goodness. The salo too is so light and fluffy, it’s like eating clouds.
The What’s On Checklist
Dakha Brakha beats just audibly in the background, fortifying the feel that this venue is indeed, all about showcasing the best of Ukraine