The Producer says that Carpetblog has been so boring lately because I like Istanbul too much and am less bitter than I was in Baku and Kyiv. So the solution must be to send me back to Kyiv, right?
But now, here I go, about to say nice things about Kyiv in a post. I think this might be because I haven't figured out a way yet to re-articulate all the things that make me insane about the FSU in general and Ukraine in specific. I am out of practice. No worries. It will come back.
When my local bitches told me they had discovered new restaurants since I left, I was skeptical. "They've been here too long," I sniffed.
But they are right about Etno, a new place on Pushkinska. Its African theme is a bit over-designed (I was disappointed to see that no retrograde Ukrainian attitudes toward race and ethnicity had manifested themselves in the decor) but the food was NOT AWFUL. Try the duck with pears and the warm goat cheese salad. The menu is also limited, which means a). some attention to quality (ha! That's hilarious) and b). no sushi.
Another good one: Vernissage. Apparently, though, it's not new. It's been on Adrivskiy Uzviz for years, which probably explains why we never knew it was there. Who goes to the Uzviz looking for a decent meal? Anyway, it's owned by a French guy and he watches those waiters like a hawk. It's small, cozy and charmingly decorated with offbeat art on the walls. It feels like a real French cafe. People who like steaks swear it's the best, most reliable steak in town. They also swear by its Thai soup, which is an odd item at a French restaurant in Kyiv, but at least there's no sushi.
I've never given a shout-out to Himalaya Indian restaurant across from the Tsum, even though I ate lunch there once or twice a week for a year. It's not the best Indian food in the world but it's pretty good for Kyiv (it is run by a Pakistani, I think) and much better than anything in Istanbul. We liked it because it was one of the few restaurants in Kyiv that understood that some people needed to get in and out in an hour at lunch, but those people were not us. Not only did the devushkas recognize me, they honored my long-gone discount card without me even having to ask! Himalaya, you rock! And no sushi!
Finally, I would like to bestow the "Best Waitress in Kyiv" award. She works at BelleVue, part of a small chain of Belgian-style restaurants with good beer, OK but overpriced food and predictably bad service (in an effort to treat the symptoms but not cure the disease, tables have bells on them). We walked in the other day and she said "Welcome!" Then she said she'd bring a menu, WHICH SHE DID. She asked if we wanted beer, which we did, and she brought it RIGHT AWAY. Our food was OK as usual but she frequently checked back to see if we wanted more beer. Unfortunately, she left before we were able to tip her generously, but I have been back several times since. She greeted me every time!
Don't get used to this.