The Odesa File
When authentic recipes meet an innovative and constantly evolving approach to cooking, and serving it forms part of the story of a long-established restaurant hardly stuck in the past, the “Odesa” file is a good example of how an eatery with a 55-year history manages to still stand out and impress.
As winter sets in I often feel an overwhelming nostalgia for the seaside. When my whining annoys my husband enough, we pack our stuff and spend a few calm days on the Odesa seashore. This year, neither of us could escape the bustle of the capital so the opportunity to at least have breakfast in the most Odesa-like restaurant in Kyiv seemed too good to pass up.
We come to Odesa late Sunday morning. The venue isn’t crowded so we take a table in the famous “rope room”. Our server Dima is in a good, almost euphoric, mood. As it turns out, Odesa was awarded the SALT national prize as one of the best fish restaurants in Ukraine just the day before – it is the second time the restaurant has received such an accolade, and as Dima says, it is well deserved.
Frankly speaking, we’ve come not only for the fresh seafood or vibrant Odesa atmosphere, after its reopening Odesa staked its historic reputation on creative cuisine and innovative preparation. Another interesting fact – some of Odesa’s entrees are cooked in a Big Green Egg – a special oven that allows the juiciness of fish and meat to be maintained while cooking.
Along with classical dishes like forshmak or Greek salad, the chef also offers intriguing gastronomic viands. I ask Dima to tell me more about the most uncommon items on the menu – Pâté Tastier than Mandarin, Martino Belgian tartar, and veal carpaccio with a recipe that has a history dating to the 16th century. From that moment we are involved in exciting stories, jumping from one intriguing drama to another, and have no other choice than to order courses with the most fascinating storylines.
A little later, our server masterfully paints a white-sauce tree on the Vittore Carpaccio masterpiece (actually – a rice dough) that covers a real veal carpaccio. While testing and tasting, we try to imagine Carpaccio’s beloved women and romantic relationships in the times of the Renaissance.
Let the feast begin!
The most authentic course is the forshmak. Odesa forshmak takes much of its DNA from the famous herring appetizer, which is ground and prepared right before our eyes. However dressed with lime and a special sauce, it takes a new interesting flavor.
Prior to the show we got a lovely present – a postcard with warm greetings from Odesa, which makes us reminisce about sea breezes. So with thoughts of seagulls and salty air we experience Odesa’s in-house specialty.
A fish entree with shrimps, scallop and vegetables is next and turns out to be a classic seafood course. Hardly cancelling out all we’ve tried up to this point, the gratinate beef ribs from the Big Green Egg oven, topped with a sweet pepper sauce, is the star of this feast. Delicious!
Next Time Front Row
Our late morning smoothly flows into a pleasant Sunday afternoon. I ask for a menu and go through the cocktail card. “Odesa Especial” could be a perfect ending to this feast. Unfortunately, it is too early for cocktails, and considering how much we’d managed to eat, it’s too late for dessert. So we agree that our next diner in Odesa will definitely start with the sip of a rum cocktail an front row seats to the upcoming food performance.
(V Vasylkivska 114)
Open 11.00 – last guest
Make sure you try…
Forshmak in a new way – a sort of classic
Gratinate beef ribs with lettuce – well-done beef cooked in a Big Green Egg oven
Pâté Tastier than Mandarin – tangerine pastille adds a light sweetness to classic liver pâté
Forshmak (100/100g) 97 UAH
Pate Tastier than Mandarin (160/60g) 127 UAH
Veal Carpaccio (180g) 175 UAH
Seafood with vegetables under seal (300g) 350 UAH
Gratinate beef ribs with lettuce (200g) 145 UAH
Viburnum with sage home tea (500ml) 85 UAH
Café latte (280ml) (x2) 120 UAH
Total 1099 UAH
The What’s On Check List
English Menu +
English-speaking staff +
WO Rating *****