Sunday, 22 December 2019

Review: Pampushka London

Like there was any doubt that I wouldn't visit here, my DNA wouldn't have it any other way!  My opportunity came earlier this month when I had planned a day in London and Pampushka was earmarked where I'd be dining.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Pampushka, in fact, is a Ukrainian word which is given to garlic bread rolls typically eaten with borscht (beetroot soup) but can also be a cheeky reference to someone who is plump!  I think the word has a cute ring to it and lends itself well as a restaurant name.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

It's currently in pop-up restaurant status up until March 2020 in rented space within The Sun & 13 Cantons Pub in Soho, London.  The owners Maks (from Odessa) and his English wife Elisha (front of house) with chef brother-in-law Rob, have created an east-meets-west vibe with Ukrainian hospitality in a typical London boozer and combining it all together,it all kind of works.   The tables are adorned with traditional black and red patterned tablecloths, a vision I've grown up with in my own family home, my Godmother's and in fact, in all Ukrainian homes I ever visited - it gives me a sense of warm familiarity.  For everyone else, I hope it gives a glimpse of Ukrainian homeliness. 

Photo: Word In Veg Ways

The menu has variety, but isn't over extensive, but gives the diner a true measure of Ukrainian food and is an excellent introduction if someone hasn't sampled it before.  Borscht, Holubtsi (stuffed cabbage rolls) and Kovbasky (traditional sausage) all make an appearance.  But the other main item no Ukrainian menu should be without is, Varenyky.  They have their own mini section within the menu.  Varenyky are filled dumpling parcels, a similar concept to Italian ravioli, but they are made from a slightly different type of dough.  Typical fillings you can have are potato & onion, mince etc.  However, Pampushka have created contemporary versions such as Truffle & Balsamic Savoy Cabbage and a pescatarian option of Mackerel, Beetroot & Horseradish.

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

We both went for Varenyky.  I had a mixed portion of Truffle & Balsamic Savoy Cabbage and Potato, Caramelised Onion & Smoked Cheese.  MCH went for Mackerel, Beetroot & Horseradish and Blood Sausage & Stewed Apple.  They were served with little ramekins of sour cream, crispy onions and garlic dill oil.  As expected, nice and filling and tasted very authentic.

Ukrainian Baked Cheesecake
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

For dessert, I had Ukrainian Baked Cheesecake with Maks' Mum's Jam and MCH had Spartak Cake (layered chocolate & cream cake).  We tried each other's desserts and we both thought that they were light without being too heavy and rich, so an ideal dessert option after carb-laden varenyky.

Spartak Cake
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

It was filling up by the time we had finished our early dinner and there were numerous reservation plaques on the tables so it was clear that it has its own following and is popular amongst city dwellers.  Elisha said things were very promising and had gone well, so perhaps a standalone venue may be on the cards next year, here's hoping.  If so, it would be good to see more dishes on the menu with traditional beers and drinks on offer, as currently the drinks are obtained from the pub bar.  Personally, I'd love some Ukrainian background music too, some kozak, zabava tunes.  Memories of which for me go hand in hand with the patterned tablecloths.  Let's hope it all comes off for Maks & co and in the meantime, you've got until March to sample a little bit of Ukraine in the heart of London and as per their tagline ( будьmo xей)- 'let's be hey!'

Note:  We paid for our food and drinks in full.  The venue did not know we were visiting or that I am a blogger or that I would be conducting a review/article.  

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