Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cafe Kiev (Brooklyn, NY)

Despite how far food in Westminster has come (a tea bar! a place where most of the food is vegetarian! entire restaurants that don't even serve crab dip! real, honest-to-goodness Malaysian food!!!), when Noah and I visit New York we are itching for food that rural Maryland just can't provide. A few weeks ago, we spent the weekend in New York visiting friends and family and experiencing food from cultures we don't come into contact with at home. One of the standout restaurants we visited was Cafe Kiev, in Brooklyn.

Cafe Kiev is a small Ukranian/Russian cafe just outside of Midwood, where we were staying with friends. It's clean and attractive inside--a step up from the slightly dingy holes in the wall that Noah and I enjoy so much. The menu looked great, so we (four people, including our friends) decided to order as many things as possible. At this point, considering how many of them were in the dishes we ordered, it was clear that this meal was brought to us by potatoes.

We started off with a pitcher of Cafe Kiev's homemade fruit punch, which we all diluted with our waters because it was a bit too sweet for our tastes. Honestly, my sweet tooth is not what it used to be, so I laid low on the fruit punch altogether.

The first dish that came out was the herring appetizer, which was served with some lovely creamy mashed potatoes. I love fish, and this was excellent--very delicately flavored despite it being fish and there being chopped onions dispersed around it. I wouldn't have thought to put the buttery, creamy mashed potatoes alongside it, but they went quite well together.

Continuing on the potato theme, next we got their home fries with mushrooms. Now, as an across-the-board lover of potatoes in all their forms, I have to commend these potatoes for their excellence. These little guys were gorgeously friend and intensely addictive, a "burden" I took for everyone since the plate was right next to me. Even when I was full, I just could not stop popping those potatoes into my mouth!

We knew we had to get the vareniki with potato and mushrooms, since it's a very traditional dish and because we just can't resist dumplings in any form. These were very good, but not the star of the meal; as I described it, "they're not bad, it's just that everything else is SO EXCELLENT that they don't stand out as much".

We finished up with two different kinds of blintzes, one with red caviar and one with one with egg, onion, and mushrooms. The egg blintz was very different than the normal crepe-like texture of blintzes: a little sturdier, a little more textured. It was overshadowed, however, by the fact that the red caviar blintzes were the best thing on the menu. The caviar gave this dish a great fishy bite, and we were trying to spread it over every inch of the blintz to make sure that each person who took a piece got some. It was light and savory and delicious, and we left very happy.

The bonus draw to Cafe Kiev is the bizarre Russian pop music videos on a large screen that just happened to be right across from where I was sitting. I think the best thing we saw during this meal was this gem of a video. Enjoy.

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