This place always reminds me of late nights with Jack and my St. Marks roomies. It’s a genuine slice of Ukraine right in the heart of the East Village. At the bustling intersection of 2nd Avenue and 9th Street, it’s been around for years and remains comfortingly static against the briskly evolving village scene.
It’s known as being a classic “drunk food” stop – but nothing sloppy or out of hand. Its warm glow and comforting aromas cater to the truly dedicated party-going crowd, out into the wee hours of the morning, when all else has died down. You’ve long passed your peak of inebriation and realize you’re hungry for some good, quality sustenance. Veselka’s where you find it.
But beyond this, it’s simply great Ukrainian food any time of day. I feel the perogies are always the must-get entrees here, but there’s a whole variety of other ethic specialties on the menu.
Jay and I grabbed an early dinner going into the holiday weekend. We started with their homemade perogies – fried and stuffed with braised short rib. The key here is mixing the side condiments to your liking. For me, a layer of sour cream, a little spread of apple sauce, and scoop of caramelized sauteed onions. The subtlety of each component is really indescribably complementary.
Jay had the eggplant sandwich – sightly on the salty side, but unique nonetheless. There was an herby pesto-like glaze over the marinated peppers and fresh mozzarella, all oozing together within a toasted olive baguette. It’s probably one of their more flavor-intense dishes, but again, distinctive in style and flavor. Plus, the sweet potato fries are always good.
I had one of the night’s specials – the spinach mushroom blintz. I loved the lightness in flavor, not like the usually intensely cheesy blintzes that barely bearable after three bites. A light hollandaise-like gravy topped the fluffy crepes, packed with gooey mushroom and spinach. It’s filling, but not uncomfortably so.
This place will always be an East Village classic. And although I’m loving the How to Make it in America HBO series, let me tell you, no one ever says “F the perogies, we’re going back to Avenue.”