Catering tween nostalgic and global

01.11.2013 | Alla Zakonova

Today, the restaurant business in Kyiv intricately combines global trends, traditions of Soviet catering and the application of classic and avant-garde advertising and marketing gimmicks. The opening of new restaurants in Kyiv and the organization of topical culinary events are testimony to this trend

Bars and pubs

The popular Soviet concept of ryumochnaya, a local bar where one can have a shot of cold vodka or enjoy sipping on a pint of cold beer, has experienced a revival in Kyiv over the last 6 months. A ryumochnaya is the modern-day Soviet equivalent of low-cost bars that serve cheap booze and beer and offer snacks to help chase down the booze. The difference is that a modern-day version of such a joint pays greater attention to interior design and promotional concepts, unlike the watering holes during the Soviet times. The first place in this trendy segment is the trash-bar Hendel, which opened late this summer not far from the Karavayevi Dachi district.

Its owners are professional market experts that run other concept establishments in this sphere of business, for example, the Banka chain of bars where food and drinks are served in glass jars and Zheltok restaurant, which is reminiscent of American diners serving eggs and bacon for breakfast.

Hendel bar was established based the classic marketing rules of a catchy and meaningful name, simple snacks and loads of alcohol. The name is a world on hendel (handel) for a low-cost watering hole in post-Soviet countries, and the name of Georg Friedrich Handel the famous Austrian Baroque composer. A hendel usually offers simple Soviet appetizer and snack menus containing sausages with adjika, sandwiches with sprats and herring, pickles, noodles and chicken broth, sunflower seeds and dried gobies with cold beer. For dessert, Soviet cafeterias offered such classics: ice cream cones, burnt sugar candies on a stick and Alyonka chocolate bars. In honor of Handel, the bar plays his works as background music.

Prices: sandwich with sprats UAH 10, dried gobies UAH, Olivier salad UAH 9, herring and potatoes UAH 15, 50 g of vodka UAH 7.50.

A new pub Muzhiki, located near the Darnytsya Metro, offers spirits and beer with plain snacks (UAH 10-20) in a respectable design interior. The menu offers borshch, broth, homemade ravioli, roast, squash caviar, herring and Olivier salads.

The bar list contains Ukrainian vodka, cognac, wine and beer. The list of dishes is written on chalkboards. The place offers self-service and orders are ready in 10-15 minutes. Its interior was decorated with paving tiles, metal, oak and brick, which were bought after the dismantling of a pre-revolutionary building in the center of Kyiv. The place is also decorated with a vintage clock, scales and an old refrigerator and features music hits from the Soviet times in the 1970s-90s. The owners plan to expand the restaurant into a chain.

Global menu

Menus in popular restaurants in Kyiv offer all the classics: pizza, pasta, Caesar salad, soup, foie gras, sushi and wok dishes. Some establishments try to tie their diversity to a particular theme. On the menu of the newly opened Chechevitsa restaurant one can find dishes of Georgian, Lebanese, Japanese and Chinese cuisine, one of the main ingredients of which is lentil.

The menu offers Georgian khachapuri, eggplants with nuts, lobio and vegetable pkhali. The Lebanese sets contain several dishes prepared from lamb, veal or chicken with appetizers and side dishes. Japanese cuisine is represented by sushi, rolls, tempura seafood and egg noodles. Panasian cuisine is represented with Thai noodles, tom yum, dim sum and Peking duck. Dishes are served in earthenware crockery and the restaurant also serves European classics minestrone, pizza, tartar, panna cotta, creme brulee and tiramisu. Chechevitsa offers Ukrainian and European beers on tap, prepares classic cocktails, spirits, has a modest selection of wines and offers uzvar (compote), fruit drinks, lemonade and ayran.

Prices: Wok menu with chicken UAH 35. Pkhali an appetizer with spinach and walnuts UAH 31. Peking Duck UAH 197. Salmon roll UAH 25. Pizza Margherita UAH 45.

A club for nice people

The name of the new club restaurant Teplitsa (greenhouse), located on Starovokzalna St., has several meanings. On the one hand teplitsa is a greenhouse in which plants are grown. At the same time, this is an acronym for the word combination tyopliye litsa, meaning friendly faces. The interior was designed as an industrial loft.

The bar serves fancy cocktails and the menu offers international standard dishes: tartar, cheese plates, bruschetta, grilled Camembert, borshch, cream of mushroom soup, risotto, pasta, salad with eel, ham, steaks, sandwiches and pancakes. The restaurant also holds Ukrainian-style parties with DJs.

Prices: Caesar salad UAH 65, veal tartar UAH 66, potato pancakes UAH 58, hodgepodge UAH 38, pasta Carbonara UAH 58, sandwich with shrimp, Philadelphia cream cheese, avocado and lettuce UAH 45.

Wine restaurant

The segment of wine establishments is gradually being developed in the Kyiv restaurant business. Among the honored favorites are Osteria Pantagruel with its wine festivals, which offers wines sold by the glass accompanied by special menus, and Enoteca PaneVino, where the wine list contains the full range of products from the wine supermarket Good Wine.

Another restaurant in this segment named VinoGrad recently opened on Saksahansko St. The restaurant menu was especially designed to go with wine the dishes contain the minimum amount of distracting spices. The restaurant has a gastronomic shop, which sells olive oil, salami, pesto, anchovies, capers and truffle oil. The wine list has approximately 200 items and wines sold by the glass.

On the menu you will find wine snacks: cheese, fish and meat dishes, foie gras and chicken liver pate, homemade pie with giblets. Soups include goulash, puree soup with spinach or broccoli, veal tail soup, fish consomm and cold cucumber soup with goat cheese. The gimmick of the menu is Portuguese cataplana. The dish was named after a special deep pot with a lid and handles, in which it is cooked. Cataplana is a mixture of onion sauce, wine, herbs and stewed veal ribs (UAH), or rabbit meat with chicken hearts and livers (UAH 180), or fish and seafood (UAH 250). On Fridays and Saturdays the place serves 1.5 kg plates of oysters, langoustines, prawns and mussels (UAH 560).

Food as marketing

With a 10-year delay behind European countries the concept of food blogging and food events is flourishing in Ukraine. Ukrainian food bloggers usually write about cuisine and the art of cooking. Our on-line writers post step-by-step recipes with pictures and sometimes mention such mainstream topics as diets for weight loss, international culinary awards, Ayurvedic principles of nutrition and news from restaurants opened by Hollywood celebrities. Most culinary bloggers came to this sphere from marketing and advertising, and, therefore, skillfully use the relevant topic as a way of self-promotion and making money. Modern food preachers remind of the once popular mentalists and healers: minimum background, maximum adventurism and self-confidence. For UAH 100 anyone can attend a master class held by a market expert/ blogger called How to turn food, drinks and parties into content.

Among the most significant food events this autumn is the first national restaurant award Sol, established by the HOTELIERO Club of Hoteliers and Restaurateurs. The principles of the Sol award are independence, inclusiveness, an authoritative jury of restaurateurs and restaurant observers and solid sponsorship. The purpose of the award is to find and evaluate the best restaurants in the country. The event is held in Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Odesa, Lviv and Kharkiv. The first stage of evaluation includes an independent opinion poll among 2,000 restaurants goers residing in the city where the event is being held. Then the winners are judged by the jury. The winners will be awarded at the InterContinental Kyiv hotel in November.

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