Ukrainian Recipes: Back to the Future
Among the newest of Ukr-restos in Kyiv, 100 Rokiv Tomu Vpered is open, but without the pomp and grandeur. What they lack in ceremony however they will test in stereotype.
Ukrainian food, at least in its stereotypical form, is hearty and delicious. But the conventional is not what you’ll find at 100 Rokiv Tomu Vpered (100 Years Ago Ahead). In-stead, they have revamped what is “traditionally” thought of as Ukrainian fare and gone back even more than 100 years, back to its roots, to dig up recipes hardly recognised as today’s conventional Ukrainian food.
AT THE TOP OF ANDRIIVSKIY
As Ukraine celebrates a rebranding, whether that be in politics, religion, or culture, so too can this rebirth be seen in its food, with a bit of a renaissance happening in the kitchens of Ukrainian-themed restaurants through-out the capital. That is certainly the case at 100 Rokiv Tomu Vpered, where, despite still being in ‘test mode’, the venue is full this Saturday evening.
Seated on the tourist and foot-traffic heavy Volodymyrska, just above the ‘souvenir district’ that is Andriivskiy Uzviz, is this bucolically modern bistro serving up food not dissimilar to its interior. The oak slabs a couple of inches thick that line the floor; the contemporary cross-stitch wooden cut-outs featuring ‘traditional vyshyvka’ that take up one wall; the trees that ‘grow’ up toward the ceiling; the white plaster – rough and rude at the bottom then starting to smoothly find its way as it continues upward (mimicking Ukraine’s culinary path); the Shevchenko University red in the accented interior. It’s all reminiscent of babulya’s house out in the village if babulya was a down-home hipster with a mean eye for design. Rather, the interior eye candy is thanks to the team over at Balbek Bureau.
AT THE READY
Seated and in possession of menus, I’m eager to experiment. I need no bowl of Borshch – give me something from 100 years ago. I start with a cocktail, topped with a mush-room cap, dubbed Lesia Ukrainka’s Dream. The adventure continues with HotchPotch Pate, which features a decadent chicken liver, butter mousse, pureed carrots, quince, Ca-hors wine, and oak bark. It is too rich to eat all at once – the trick is to leave it on the table and it will be gone before you leave.
The Best Cheeses from Local Farmers ac-companies, and, wrapped in cheesecloth suspended on twigs, it is gallantly presented in all its smelly extravagance. This evening it is a local parmesan equivalent with blue cheese, and both are superb, most especially when paired with the Spinach, Sorrel, and Green Cream Salad. You might give little more thought to greens being anything more than necessary fibre in your diet, this ‘Ukrainian Avocado’ dish however will have you rethinking a number of vegetables not often given their due. The surprise cream I’ll leave for you to find out.
Already humming from the flavours, the last orders include Finely Chopped Beef from the Wood Stove and Beef Tenderloin with Sprat Tartare. The first comes swimming in a delicious broth of vegetables and lovage and is known in culinary circles as Shpundry. The second are two beautifully-prepared cheeks which sit atop carrot mash and dill grains. They are heavenly.
Lesia Ukrainka’s Dream – 175 UAH
Kolonist Odesa Black – 90 UAH
HotchPotch Pate – 99 UAH
Best Cheeses from Local Farmers – 187 UAH
Spinach, Sorrel, and Green Cream Salad – 128UAH
Finely Chopped Beef from the Wood Stove – 186 UAH
Beef Tenderloin with Sprat Tartare – 286 UAH
TOTAL – 1 133 UAH
Make sure you try:
Halushky with meat and cherries (Poltava recipe) – 125 UAH
Rabbit, Bacon, Salo, Apple Vinegar and Sunflower Root – 217 UAH
Purple Cabbage with Pine Cones – 115 UAH
A CULINARY EVOLUTION
What’s so interesting about – not this restaurant necessarily but – the food, is that chef Yevgheniy Klopotenko and his team have put months into researching how Ukrainians used to eat. Not even 100 years ago, but far further back. “Ukraine’s culinary evolution sort of stopped with the Russian Revolution, so we had to go back further,” says Klopotenko, winner of Ukraine’s Master Chef Season 5.
And go back they did, searching for recipes, visiting villages. What they found was a collection of about 150 dishes, and from those they started experimenting. Changing little but the technology, Klopotenko says, “This is not Ukrainian cuisine as we understand it, it is Ukrainian cuisine as we will come to understand it.”
Throwing caution to the wind, 100 Rokiv Tomu Vpered will certainly challenge your preconceived palette. So do as the sign says on the door when you arrive, and “leave your stereotypes outside”.
100 Rokiv Tomu Vpered
⎯ 11.00 – 23.00
+380 68 068 6975
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