>> Rondel | Eat the World NYC

17 January 2019



The block of Coney Island Avenue between Avenue P and Quentin Road has become sort of a Black Sea dining destination over the years, with the nations that surround this continent-straddling body of water almost all represented within a few meters of each other. Taci's Beyti (Turkey) has been around longer than most restaurants in the city, while newer ones like Slavyanskiy Bazar (Russia) and Argo Restaurant (Georgia) seem to have taken hold as well. Azerbaijan, removed from the Black Sea by a few hundred kilometers is there too at Village Cafe. While Bulgaria and Romania are unfortunately left out, the northern shores of the sea have representation here at Rondel with its Ukrainian food.

Ukrainian cuisine might be seen through at least two different lenses if you look beyond the names of common dishes. The first would be if we had a Ukrainian grandmother and visited her in Kiev during holidays, enjoying the feasts she prepared for the family using recipes passed down from her mother and grandmother. The second, and the lense in which Ukrainian food is seen here at Rondel, is that in which some of its dishes were co-opted by the Soviet Union after its creation and became part of the spectrum of Soviet foods enjoyed throughout the vast empire. Foods from Ukraine and the Caucasus, particularly Georgia, become well-known and beloved throughout after the first world war.

For this reason, you will notice some differences between the food here and the simple preparations at Streecha in the East Village. Waves of Ukrainian immigration has landed many tens of thousands of people in the East Village since the end of the 1800's, whereas the Russian-dominated landscape of South Brooklyn and its foods is more Soviet-style.

Unfamiliar to both most likely is the Rondel salad ($10, above), a mixture of mushrooms, red pepper, and tomato combined with pastrami, mozzarella, and mayonnaise. Despite such a hodgepodge, it has good flavors and multiple textures.

A huge plate of assorted pickled vegetables ($13, below) is such a good value that it should probably make its way to every table. Much of the food can get heavy, so these crisp tart vegetables can easily remedy that.

Blintzes, thin rolled wheat flour pancakes are available with either red caviar or with meat and mushroom sauce. The latter is shown below, two pieces cost $6.

There were a few oohs and aahs at the table when the bowls of Ukrainian borscht ($7, below) showed up and we started digging in. The soup held its own and was quite delicious, full of hunks of beef just below the surface. Feel free to spoon in as much sour cream as desired, and eat the soup with a hot garlic roll known as a pampushka.

The English phrasing of One Big Potato Pancake ($16 with meat, below) caught our attention and deserved an order. Cheese was not part of the description, but dominated the dish as you can see. The fairly thin pancake is folded over the meat and mushrooms within.

Despite being possibly the most dramatic dish, arriving at the table with a fluffy top of bread, the beef stew ($19, below) was also the most expensive and the least interesting. It lacked much flavor. Check out our Instagram for the shot before the stew took its top off:

Somehow the little beauties known as vareniki, or Ukrainian-style dumplings, did not make their way onto the menu but they are available in both savory and sweet varieties. We chose the sour cherry version ($12, below) to double as our dessert and were not disappointed. These are just slightly sweet but supremely satisfying.

Rondel Ukrainian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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