Moo Eats: Streecha

This is my first full blog food experience review. I will be call these Moo Eats: I am proud and pleased to do this 4 moo review (world class, ethnic NYC Experience, must NOT miss!, bring your friends, unique, highest quality) for Streecha, aka Ukrainian Street Kitchen. I have brought many people to the street kitchen, always overjoyed, amazed and the food often brings tears to peoples eyes. When you’ve get bored of one 5 star reviewed, Zagat scored and Michelin ranked restaurant after another in NYC and want one of the most memorable meals of your life, informal, no pressure, it’s time to come home to Streecha for a world class meal. While the menu is limited, they have everything you want. Maybe you didn’t know you wanted it?

Streecha is best for an Early (11am or so) Sunday Brunch. The clientelle is about half young Ukranian speaking families dressed in their Sunday best coming from services at Saint George Church. The other half are a standard mix of NYC, which is everything imaginiable from yuppies to NYU Students. This neighborhood has been the landing point for hard working Polish and Ukranian families for well over 100 years. The neighborhood is both modest and proud.

The decor has been described in reviews as “kitchy”, decorated “like” a church soup kitchen, no it’s not LIKE a church soup kitchen, it IS a church soup kitchen!

Oh the chef! Let me tell you about the chef!

There is none.

The food is as real as it gets, organic and fresh. It is made by babooshkas as a decades long fundraising effort for the Church of Saint George. The New York Times wrote an article called “Dumplings for the Lord.” They invite the public in on Friday’s to watch the old fashioned machine churn out hundreds of dumplings – a topic for another blog perhaps.

The sign used to be handwritten with a sharpie piece of paper hanging from the window guard. This year they have upgraded and have a plastic sign screwed to the wall under a World War 2 memorial plaque.

Walk down the 100+ year old stairway and into the corridor of doors. “Am I in the right place?!

Is it safe here?

When you find the immaculatly clean recycling area with the handwritten signs in Ukrainian and English taped to the wall, you know you’re almost there. Just turn around and there’s the “Welcome we’re open sign in English”. That’s for us. All of the Ukranian patrons bringing their families from services at Saint George Church know where it is.

I open the door and step in. My senses are immediately enveloped by the most incredible aroma of savory umami. It makes me giddy as if I’ve just walked into my best friends grandma’s home when she’s cooking for the holidays.

Like in her living room, by the counter is a TV tuned into the local Ukranian news channel. You didn’t know we had a local Ukraninan news channel here in NYC, eh? neither did I. Of course we do!

The service could not be more personal or better! You step up, speak to the nice Ukranian lady who works the counter, because she speaks english the best. The menu’s are taped to the counter in Ukrainian and English. Another improvement, it looks like they have access to a color printer now!

New for this year, a “specials” menu. The Kebab with roasted potato is the most expensive item on the menu today.

I order one kebab special, One Stuffed Cabbage, 4 Varenyky and pay. The nice lady runs into the back and gives her hand written order to the kitchen staff, who speak fluent Ukranian, then comes back and helps Mark, who orders 4 varanyky and Borscht. The food is delivered in minutes by a guy balancing plastic cafeteria trays to our seats at a long table. The food comes much faster than expected.

The Borscht is hot, rustic and earthy. The Varanyky is light with the margin between the potato and the dumpling melded into one. The fried onion on top adds just the right amount of texture and flavor. That $8 tab included a drink.

The kebab and sauce was rich and flavorful, The roasted potatoes crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside with wonderful flavor. The Stuffed cabbage, just like my jewish grandmother made (maybe a tad better!). The varanyky has brought a tear to many an eye. The $16 dollar tab included a drink.

We were both stuffed until well past dinner time.

So there you have it. One of the best meals you can get $24 for two. More than enough food. Did I mention this is in Manhattan? We bus our trays and leave.

PRO’s why you should eat at Streecha!

  • It’s hard to find. The “sign” says “Streecha” if you speak Ukranian.
  • They speak Ukrainian. for real, not just pretend to.
    • They have an english menu, just like any good restaurant in Ukraine that caters to American tourists would have.
  • It has a limited menu, but this year they have added specials, sometimes.
  • It has odd hours
    • They close for the summer and around all holidays so the Ukrainian grandma’s can cook for their families.
  • It looks like a church food kitchen in a tenement basement. because it is.

CONS

  • It is embarrasingly inexpensive
    • so you can’t brag to your friends how money much you spent.

This is an amazing quintessential New York City Experience. Do it while it lasts.

A Final Word about the Neighborhood, the East Village, Manhattan Island and The City of New York.

If you expand the picture and look at the names of men of this block of East 7th Street who Loyally served their country in World War 2, you will see names of every nationality and descent. The United States of America has always been an aspirational home for people from EVERYWHERE and of EVERY race, color and belief (including no beliefs).

Let this 75 year old plaque remind us that the USA is, was and always has been the country of every people from every place who choose to call it home.

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