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.
Back in the day I might have passed right by you when we were visiting our friends on 48th Street!
Alas, all of this is in memory only, too old to make the trip all the way from Western MA. But I remember Uncle Vanya’s with great fondness, and it’s nice to know it’s still there.