Streecha, Hidden Ukrainian Kitchen in the East Village
Streecha is a hole-in-the-wall Ukrainian kitchen on 7th Street in between Second and Third Avenue. The kitchen is owned and operated by the Ukrainian church across the street. Think varenykys and stuffed cabbages with a cup of borscht. It's a cheap alternative to the neighboring Veselka. You can order the entire menu for under $20. The only caveat is that it's only open Fridays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fork in the Road headed there this weekend, and with the exception of the cake, we ordered everything off the menu. Photos after the jump.
Now the restaurant probably has one of the most inconspicuous exteriors in New York City. To tell the truth, the whole setup looks sketchy. The restaurant is located on the basement level, and the only thing that distinguishes it from nearby buildings is a laminated paper sign with the name "Streecha" and its hours. Be warned that sometimes it will close without notice.
But what it lacks in warmth on the outside, it makes up for it inside. Seats are cafeteria-style, and the restaurant is manned by a close-knit community of Ukrainian septuagenarian parishioners. The food is made by a small volunteer group of elderly women. According to a Times feature on the women, proceeds go to finance the operations of the church and its private school.
The menu has standard Eastern European offerings. Although the borscht, a beet-based soup, wasn't impressive (tasted a little watered down), the varenykys were the main standout. They're buttered with onion sauce and filled with potatoes. Covered with a thick gravy, the stuffed cabbages have a rice-and-meat filling that will be sure to fill you up if the varenkyks haven't already. We ordered the sauerkraut with sausage for the sake of research, because at this point, we were too stuffed to consume any more food.
Clarissa Wei Stuffed cabbage and varenykys
Clarissa Wei Cup of borscht
Clarissa Wei Sauerkraut with sausage
For a cheap weekend brunch, Streecha is definitely a great option that won't burn a hole in your wallet. And with its blue-and-white-tiled walls decorated with religious photographs and outdated Christmas lights, a visit to this Ukrainian kitchen is an experience in and of itself.
Address: 33 East 7th Street (near Second Avenue), New York, NY 10003