Founded back in 1999 by known restaurateurs and friends Andriy Zadorozhnyy and Sergiy Predko, this venue aimed to unite good food, a bar, and entertainment in a format which did not exist in Ukraine at that time. In the 15 years since they have succeeded in that mission, creating a venue that has its regulars as well as pulling in new punters.
Rock Of Ages
Despite it being one of the oldest western-oriented venues in Kyiv, Dejavu and I have never been properly introduced. So when I enter this large restaurant situated on Bohdana Khmelnytskoho, right behind the National Opera of Ukraine, the first thing that strikes me is its rocker/biker vibe: the interior consists of musical memorabilia with signed guitars, autographed photos of stars on the walls, and real bikes and bike parts.
My friend Sonya and I hand our coats over to be hung in the cloakroom. We are then taken to our table, which stands right in the middle of the dining hall, meaning we were in prime position to see the stage where musicians are warming up ready to play. The back wall of the stage is basically one massive LED-lit screen, which I wouldn’t suggest looking at for any long period of time – you’ll find your eyes tire of the drastic difference in light compared to the relative darkness of the rest of the room, which houses red sofas in booth formation and about 10 freestanding tables and chairs. We decide to order as quickly as possible before the gig starts and deafens both us and our servers.
The First Bite
The pianist starts gently playing old hits, and they are the perfect backing track as we scan the menu and make our choice. There are more than 10 salads – we chose one each to start our meal. I’m particularly interested in trying the Caesar salad offered here with three different variants – grilled chicken, shrimps or salmon. I opt for the shrimps and here I’ll admit the shrimps in my salad are amazing thanks to that very appetising aroma of being grilled. My friend Sonya stops her search at the grilled vegetable salad with pesto sauce and Parmesan. When her salad is brought we both detect the sweet scent of basil immediately.
The salads in general in Dejavu are a mix of Soviet and European recipes, with prices higher than average, varying from 65hrv for a usual shuba (herring under fur coat) salad, up to 185hrv for a mozzarella buffalo salad with tomatoes and fresh herbs. So, as long as you are ready to part with about 100hrv per salad you’re sure to find one you like on the menu.
Moving On To Mains
Although the restaurant offers a bunch of exciting cold and hot snacks as the first course, including five soups based mostly on Ukrainian recipes, we decide to skip this course and leave some space for our mains. It turns out to be the right decision as we later take much delight in devouring our main courses, savouring every bite. Had we had snacks beforehand I believe there would have been no room for the generous servings. But I am getting ahead of myself, so going back to the selection.
I decide to have meat while Sonya goes for poultry. My beef medallions with Roma tomato sauce and eggplant cream cheese rolls is served on a wooden platter and is well-presented, leading to me expressing my special thanks to the chef who obviously knows how important it is to present a dish properly. While the beef medallions taste more or less ordinary, what is interesting is the Roma tomato sauce – shredded tomatoes, not salty at all, however rich in savoury flavour. It’s something new to me. Mixed with the eggplant cream cheese rolls that are also a new experience, they are the perfect garnish and go well with the beef.
Despite my dish being a very good one, Sonya’s choice, duck leg with caramelised apples and roasted potato is even better. The duck leg, also beautifully served, comes with caramelised apples coated with a sweet jam, which I presume is raspberry. While we don’t go for the most expensive offer on the main course, which is rack of lamb with grilled vegetables for 495hrv, we have no regrets. The other dishes we had considered were rabbit cutlets with boiled buckwheat and mushroom sauce, a juicy turkey kebab with vegetables and herbs and one of Dejavu’s three steak offers – two Ukrainian and one US. These will be must-eats the next time we visit the restaurant.
A Musical Surprise
Just as our appetites are fully sated, the live band starts playing and their genre of music leaves us a little confused. The band starts and it is clear they are playing rock covers of Soviet times or as it is generally referred to, Russian rock. I have nothing against retro but it is quite unexpected. Despite our confusion, other diners, older than us, obviously appreciate the retro flavour and start dancing.
Meanwhile we are stuffed but decide there’s still some space for a little dessert between us. Among the interesting options like New York cheesecake, Austrian Sacher cake with peach syrup, Napoleon cake on raspberry puree with nuts and caramel, as well as a few ice-cream based desserts, we decide to share tiramisu served with Savoiardi cookies washed down with blended fruit tea. The latter is presented in an interesting way – it is brought to us in a jar covered with a special cloth to keep it hot.
Overall, the service in Dejavu is fast and polite. Despite the fact our server is rushed off her feet tending to the whims of diners at another table where a birthday celebration is taking place, we don’t feel neglected. She brings our orders to us fast and pays us just the right amount of attention. As we are about to leave, the birthday party becomes wilder and streamers are launched into the air. It reminds me of New Year celebrations. Both of us are glad we experienced Dejavu and it is something we will experience again for sure.
Caesar Salad with Shrimps (270g) - 139hrv
Grilled Vegetable Salad with Pesto Sauce and Parmesan (265g) - 85hrv
Beef Medallions with Roma Tomato Sauce and Eggplant Cream Cheese Rolls (120g/150g) - 229hrv
Duck Leg with Caramelised Apples and Roasted Potato (200g) - 165hrv
Tiramisu (200g) - 83hrv
Advent Blend Fruit Tea -55hrv
Grand Total: 756hrv
Dejavu (B Khmelnytskoho 30, M Zoloti Vorota/Teatralna)
Hours: 12.00 – 02.00, 235-9802
We Want Your Review!
Have you been to Dejavu? Email us your review of the food, service and atmosphere. Include your name and we’ll publish a sampling in What’s On!
by Vadym Mishkoriz