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Officials to clear homeless encampment near campus in May
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • March 4, 2024

Dish of the Week: Ruta’s Varenyky

Erika Filter | Staff Photographer
The simplest option, the cheese varenyky, added extra chewiness and uniformity to the dumpling.

From Ethiopian to Lao, D.C. offers a wide range of cuisines, and the first Ukrainian restaurant in the District boasts colorful cocktails, a mix of traditional and chic ambiance and comforting, hearty fare.

Head chef Dima Martseniuk, who served as the executive chef at the Ukrainian restaurant Veselka in New York for 12 years, began serving traditional Ukrainian dishes like borscht, an Eastern European stew, chicken Kyiv, a fried chicken dish and banosh, a corn grits dish, when Ruta opened in April. The upscale atmosphere makes for a good date-night spot.

A short walk from the Eastern Market Metro station, the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows invite guests into the plush-pink seating. Upon entering, the wall features hand-painted flowers in a Ukrainian folk style, a reference to the restaurant’s namesake, a legendary Ukrainian flower.

A friend and I opted for a Sunday night reservation, and the restaurant was lively even as night fell. The space boasts ample lighting for guests to examine the Renaissance-style paintings and the salt and pepper shakers, which feature hand-painted sunflowers in blue and yellow. 

Water arrived in ornate gray goblets. We took in the distinctly modern European music, dotted with saxophone and intense rhythm.

The Patriot ($14), one of Ruta’s specialty cocktails, dotted nearly every table. The layered pineapple juice, Ukrainian horilka — a grain-based alcohol — Malibu and blue curaçao replicated the Ukrainian flag, and the drink was topped with an additional miniature Ukrainian flag. Miniature flags also dotted breads served alongside portions of borscht.

Inspired by the colorful drinks at nearby tables, I ordered a Crimean night ($8), which was hued a deep orange with passionfruit seeds at the bottom. The combination of passionfruit and club soda provided a unique tang.

The dinner menu distinguishes soups, appetizers and salads, varenyky — Ukrainian dumplings — and entrees. The varenyky come filled with cheese, sauerkraut, Buffalo chicken or short rib, and come in fours ($9) or eights ($17). My friend and I went for the assortment of all four fillings in eight varenyky ($18).

The varenyky arrived topped with herbs and caramelized onions with a side of sour cream. 

The simplest option, the cheese varenyky, added extra chewiness and uniformity to the dumpling. The dumplings varied in size, indicating they were handmade. The sauerkraut was pleasantly mild, with the carrots and cabbage providing only a mild tang. My friend, who took the meat-filled varenyky, spoke highly of the short rib filling.

The caramelized onions provided a hint of sweetness, while the optional sour cream added a complex, acidic flavor to the starchy dumplings.

After a leisurely stroll through Eastern Market, stop by Ruta for a nourishing, traditional Eastern European meal new to many in the District.

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About the Contributor
Erika Filter, News Editor
Erika Filter is a senior majoring in international affairs from Carson City, Nevada. She leads the Metro beat as one of The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editors and previously served as the assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
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