Veselka: Soul Food for Hipsters
144 Second Ave., East Village, New York
I admit that I forgot to jot down Veselka’s address before we hopped on the train. Thanks to my memory of that one scene in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist when she told him to meet her at the restaurant on 9th and 2nd, we found Veselka after a few wrong turns.
Nothing beats a subzero New York night than homey chicken soup and a plate of perogies. I’ve loved loved perogies since I was a kid. The Ukrainian dumplings are made of my two favourite ingredients: potato and cheese: ingredients for the ultimate comfort food.
Veselka is open 24 hours, so it’s the perfect spot for both late night eats or early morning breakfast. Or just as a hideaway from the craziness of the city at any time of the day; how many times has Dan Humphrey ducked the Upper Eastsiders in this little nook? Veselka has been an establishment in New York since 1954. I’ve always thought of the restaurant as a happy result of the cultural melting pot of America: a mish-mash of Eastern European and American cultures and a place where home cooking is celebrated.
Praised in The New York Times, New York Magazine and Time Out New York, Veselka puts Ukrainian food on the map in East Village. The wood paneled dining room, bustling atmosphere and buttery aromas of cooking dumplings and baking pie make Veselka a cozy escape from winter nights. Their chicken soup is unsuspectingly rich and filling. Large shreds of chicken meat were found throughout the soup mixed in with big soft noodles and flavourful vegetables. This soup totally warmed our tummies. Even the egg bread served with the soup was delicious, soft and moist, perfect for dunking in the piping hot broth.
We ordered a plate of boiled perogies too. The dumplings are handmade daily in Veselka’s kitchen. The plump and dimpled dumplings had that homemade look to them, each one in an endearing different shape. I was reminded of making dumplings with my mom when I was little.
Served with the perogies were big ramekins of sauteed onions, apple sauce and sour cream. I generously dunked my dumplings in sour cream and ate the sweet and tart apple sauce with a spoon. I don’t usually eat sauteed onions but Veselka’s were sweet and flavourful.
The plain potato perogies still remain one of my favourites. And Veselka’s are no exception. Something about the creamy and soft potatoes in Veselka’s perogies completely hits the spot for my comfort food craving.
The spinach and cheese perogi was my absolute favourite, the salty spinach paired with the mild, melted cheese (and dunked completely in sour cream) was the perfect little parcel of rich goodness.
My other favourite perogi was the cheese filled one, the pillowy dumpling is a cheese lover’s dream, stuffed full of melted, creamy cheese. I could eat 10 of these.
I liked the sauerkraut perogi even though I’m not a fan of sauerkraut. The cabbage was still crunchy. It was deliciously salty and sour as sauerkraut should be.
My least favourite perogi was the meat dumpling. The meat has the consistency of pate, which I was alright with. I just wasn’t a fan of the taste.
I loved that the perogi skins were nice and thick, chewy and sturdy enough to hold in lots of filling.
Veselka’s homey and scrumptious perogies represented Ukrainian culture’s trademark hospitality. It was like eating at the home of a large, warm family.
I glanced at the pastry display case on the way out and spotted a peanut butter pie but I was too stuffed to get it. Next time, it’ll be the first thing I order.