Foodtourist restaurant opened in the Arena City shopping complex in downtown Kyiv in January. Except it didn’t fully open. According to its staff, it is working “in test mode.”
In effect, this means, for example, that only two of the five desserts on the menu were available one recent evening.
The owner, Dmitry Borisov, has been quoted as saying the restaurant will not be officially opened until he is fully satisfied with it.
This is madness.
A restaurant is either ready to open or it is not. Otherwise you, the customer, are a paying guinea pig.
The whole concept is strange, considering that the owner is an experienced restaurateur with two other venues, Barsuk and GastroRock, up and running.
Judging by our trip to Foodtourist, it may be some time before it can be “officially” opened, whatever that means.
The bar-restaurant is tucked in the corner of the courtyard on the second floor of Arena City.
Its interior design can be described as that of a futuristic loft, with silver couches, metal-pipe light fittings and shopping baskets containing tins hanging from the wall.
I counted nine enormous plasma screens from where I was sitting. There could have been more.
The place is styled as an eatery aimed at young, relatively well-off people who want to eat good Ukrainian and European food without breaking the bank.
Foodtourist restaurant has a pleasant interior. (Anya Korbut)
There was a pleasant crowd there on this particular evening – mostly young adults, but none of the show-off rich who can spoil an evening out in some places.
Foodtourist struggles to find a real identity, like most restaurants in Kyiv. It tries to be all things to all people, and ends up a hotchpotch.
The filet mignon was off the menu, so I went for the porterhouse steak. I asked for it medium. Half of it was.
The other half was slightly burnt on the outside and cooked through in the middle. The grilled vegetables were good – fresh and crispy.
According to the menu, all ingredients used are organic and sourced in Ukraine, although given that there is no organic standard here, it’s hard to imagine how they can be sure they achieved it.
My dining companions said the beef shashlyk was dry, although another friend enjoyed her battered red mullet.
Foodtourist has a good range of beers. I ordered a small Leffe – not Lyoff, as most waiters in Ukraine insist on calling it.
I was surprised to be served the beer in a beer mug. Leffe, as all Belgian beers, should be served in its own special glass to achieve the best head and taste.
This might sound like nitpicking, but when you market yourself as a snazzy eatery that’s comfortable with European dishes and drinks, you should get it right.
For dessert, I ordered a creme brulee – my third choice after the listed-but-unavailable mille-feuille and tiramisu.
The chef has decided to call the dish crema catalana, the name given to that dish in the region of northwestern Spain. It’s not clear why he chose this, other than to be pretentious.
This impression was enhanced when the waitress used a mini-blowtorch to caramelize the sugar at our table. This is needless showing off. The dessert itself had an unpleasant texture, in part sloppy and in part too jellified, rather than smooth.
My friends enjoyed their platter of cheeses, including Italian hard and French soft ones. But the red wine they had to complement the cheeses was ice cold, perhaps after being stored outside.
This is fixable, as are a number of the other faults. Send back the plasma TVs and buy appropriate beer glasses with the money. Move the red wine away from cold things. Get a new creme brulee /crema catalana recipe.
Then, perhaps, the restaurant will be ready for its “official” opening.
5 Velyka Vasylkivska Str. Arena City, second floor. Tel. 095780 60 70.
Kyiv Post editor James Marson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org