Since 1991 Uncle Vanya’s Cafe has been Hell’s Kitchen’s home for Russian comfort food. Vanya’s is a cozy spot on West 54th Street whose interior resembles a small rustic chalet or lodge. Back in the day I lived around the corner from Vanya’s and this was our go-to spot for Blini and stuffed cabbage.
The Dumplings: For this outing I tried the potato Vareniki which come smothered in caramelized onions and mushrooms, topped with a dollop of sour cream. Unlike the Vareniki I have had at Polish and Ukrainian spots in the East Village, these Vareniki were simply boiled rather than being boiled and then crispy pan-fried. The Vareniki filling was light and fluffy and the dough wrappers were delicate and thin, somewhat less hearty than I have had elsewhere. The mushroom and onion topping was outstanding and there was enough to last all the way through eating the Vareniki.
Vanya’s also serves Pelmini, which are a crescent shaped dumplings filled with beef and spices, which as I recall from my beef eating days are quite good.
The Location: Uncle Vanya’s Cafe is on 54th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.