Thursday, December 10, 2015

(die) Ukraine: immer mit Wodka

I went to Ukraine on my first honeymoon (one marriage, two honeymoons) and I will say that it was one of my least favorite destinations. I think I liked it more than Scotland because the food and weather were better and I didn't have a massive case of morning sickness, but.....the people are not warm. That's the nicest way I can say it. Anyway, I wasn't really looking forward to a Ukrainian meal because of the bad association I have with it. But, duty called and so off I set for Ukraine because it seemed the only real Ukrainian (as opposed to Russian or Eastern European) restaurant in town. This seems no longer to be the case because when I arrived it had become Restaurant Graf, which clearly proclaims it self to be a "Russian restaurant." And it was completely empty. But we were there already and it was cold and dark and it wasn't like there were any other solid Ukrainian options to be found in Berlin (that I know of) so in we went. Graf is clearly on a different wavelength than most of the Brooklyn wannabe restaurants in Berlin (for starters, it isn't a hamburger joint). It has table cloths and a fake fireplace and tacky chandeliers and fake marble columns, fake silver candelabras, and a disco ball with Russian (I guess?) pop music videos playing behind it. It feels very Russian (or Ukrainian for that matter). I asked the waitress if the old restaurant had been Ukrainian, but she maintained that it has always been Russian. This seems not exactly true, but I decided not to get political.

In any case, we ordered the Ukrainian Appetizer to start, which is not something I would ever order, but, again, duty called. It was basically slices of raw meaty pork fat, pickles, and fresh dill with a shot of vodka. While shots of vodka are not really my thing and I was never sure how this dish was meant to be eaten (on bread? in bites?), somehow this all really worked for me and was my favorite thing we ordered. The low point was a green borscht that was missing a whole lot of flavor. I filled up on pork fat, so didn't leave hungry, but this was most definitely not worth ordering. I managed to eat more than my share of the cherry pelmeni with sour cream, though. All in all, I was really surprised by this place. I will freely admit that walking into an ueber tacky empty restaurant specializing in what is not one of the world's great cuisines had me convinced that this meal was going to be nothing but awful. Glad to have been proven wrong.

Restaurant Graf
Martin-Luther-Strasse 8

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