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On the cover
7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope


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28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.

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Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.

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Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.

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Take me out!

A Night at the Opera

When you have a young child, you dont get the chance to go out with your wife much, so this time round Im very happy its my turn to do the Whats On review, as it means Katya and I get an evening out. And I am even more happy that, having heard theyve got a new chef whos created a new menu, were doing Teatro in the Opera Hotel a place Ive always liked. Im just hoping the new menu lives up to my expectations.

Those of you whove been there will know that Teatro consists of two rooms, one very internal which is quite classic in style, and the other with large windows and skylights with a much more modern feel. Strangely perhaps, everyone sits in the latter, which has a really pleasant feel to it: even in the depths of winter it kinda makes you feel like youre sitting on a summer terrace on a warm day.

A Warm Welcome
Teatro also has two entrances one from the hotel and one from the street. Having parked the car in the hotel car park (which is free for patrons) we use the street entrance, which seems to throw the staff a little who are obviously more used to people entering from the hotel. This would suggest to me that the restaurant is used mostly by clients of the hotel, which, depending on how the evening goes, could be a real pity.
The staff muster quickly, welcome us warmly and show us to a table. Were brought menus and asked if wed like anything to drink just water at this stage. Left to make our decisions, we sit back and relax.
Its pleasant here. Teatro has a feel of tranquility about it, which makes the place an excellent choice for a romantic dinner, a quiet evening with friends, or even a business meeting.
Were already enjoying ourselves so much that when our waiter comes back to ask for our order weve not even picked up the menus, so we ask him for five minutes and take a look.
Before departing, our waiter points out that the menu begins with steaks and other grilled meats, before moving on to starters etc, and sure enough at the very top page is a 550 gram T-Bone steak, which I immediately realise is going to cause me problems when making my choice.
Following the steaks are hot and cold starters, soups and salads, pasta and risotto dishes, fish and meat, and theres also a section of Ukrainian dishes. Interestingly, every section has a chefs suggestion, some of which look very appealing.

Difficult Choices
The choices per section are few, but every one of them tantalises. For example, for a starter should I have the buffalo mozzarella with tomato, cucumber, basil cream cheese, Parma ham chips and saffron jelly (I am sure I see a plate of this float past on its way to another table, and it looks divine), or the chefs special of smoked salmon stuffed with goats cheese, mint basil jelly, orange comfit, cream sauce and fennel chips, or the langoustine tartar with homemade citrus powder, crispy vegetables and vanilla potatoes foam. And while there are even more main courses that appear worth a try, I cant get the idea of a 550 gram T-bone steak out of my head.
Katya is equally torn between the tuna salad and marinated lobster (another chefs special), and is slowly narrowing down her possible main course choices. Eventually, she calls the waiter, asks for his advice and the two of them, in Russian, decide shes going to start with the tuna salad followed by the meat sections chefs special, which is a US Tournedos Rossini with rustic bread, foie gras, sautéed spinach, black truffle shavings and Madera sauce.
At least her main course selection narrows it down for me, because it had been at the top of my list. I just cant make up my mind whether to have the steak, which I know Im going to enjoy, or should I select something perhaps a little more interesting from this reviews point of view. In the end, my hunger wins out and I opt for the T-bone steak with a side of fries and Béarnaise sauce on the side. For starters I end up with the none-of-the-above choice of gratin New Zealand mussels, herb butter and romaine salad.
And I realise I havent mentioned the wines: the wine list at Teatro begins with a selection of rare and vintage wines, which we skip by, followed by a list of wines from around the world.
Id heard that the Ukrainian Pinot Noir Reserve from the Trubezkoy Kniaz winery was perfectly palatable, so we opt for this along with a litre of Vittell.
Warm, fresh bread baked on the premises is brought to the table, and the meal begins.

Exquisite Presentation
Now, Im not one for nouveau cuisine Im a big man with a big appetite, and quantity comes above presentation for me. That said, I can appreciate a well-presented dish as long as quality and quantity dont suffer. Here at Teatro, the presentation of our starters is top class, and neither quality nor quantity is compromised for it.
The presentation of Katyas salad is particularly beautiful with the salad formed in a tower in the centre of the plate with the tuna, potatoes and other accoutrement laid around it. Its a work of art on a plate.
My herb-crusted mussels are equally well presented, laid around a tall slender glass containing a lemon vinaigrette. It all looks excellent, portion sizes satisfy, and the quality of the products and flavour combinations are excellent.
Top marks all round for the starters, and what happens next is equally as pleasing when the waiter comes to collect our empty plates, he asks if wed like our main courses to be brought immediately, or if wed like a break. Why doesnt every place show this courtesy? I ask myself. I mean, sometimes time is a consideration and you want to move things along, while at other times (like now for us), were simply wanting to enjoy the experience. A nice touch, if I may say.
Were in no rush, we say, and sit back to converse while occasionally sipping at the wine. I must say, the Ukrainian Pinot Noir Reserve is surprisingly good. I dont want to be disparaging of Ukrainian wines, but you wouldnt know this was one. Its perfectly palatable and really rather pleasant.
When our main courses arrive, the pleasantness continues. My steak fills the plate, and with a knob of herb butter slowly melting on top, it looks and smells divine. Katyas dish, however, is high on the Richter scale of food presentation, in fact, Im sure I feel a little earth tremor as its laid in front of her sitting atop the rustic bread at the base topped with the sautéed spinach, sits the fillet steak, on top of which sits the foie gras which is in turn topped with the shaving of black truffle. It just looks great. And Katya says it tastes great too. The steak itself is perfectly cooked and beautifully tender, and when combined with the delicate flavour and texture of the foie gras and black truffle well... Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
And what can be said about my T-bone? Youd certainly expect a restaurant that begins its menus with steaks to do it steaks well. And our experience so far of the cuisine at Teatro heightens that expectation. For once, the reality exceeds the very high expectation.
The steak hails from the US, so its tender, its also perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, and for me has the right amount of fat still attached (I know its not healthy, but its tasty, and I shed a tear every time I see a place trim all the fat from a steak).

Fabulous Finale
After all that, and another break, weve still got room for dessert. The menus are delivered back to our table, and this time round there will be no difficulty in choosing as theres only five to choose from. Katya opts once again for the chefs special, which is pink almond biscuit, strawberry mango jelly and raspberry sorbet (85hrv) while I opt for the apple pie tatin with sour cream and vanilla ice cream.
And I cant fault either of them top marks once again for presentation (they both look great), and the flavours are thoroughly pleasing.
I have to say, I cant fault the Teatro in any area it has a pleasant and appealing atmosphere and décor, the service is excellent, and most importantly the food is first class. And the prices arent too bad at all either. I strongly suggest you give it a try.

Edible Inventory
Tuna Salad - 165hrv
Mussels - 125hrv
Tournedos Rossini - 320hrv
T-bone steak - 490hrv
Fries - 45hrv
Béarnaise Sauce - 30hrv
Apple Pie Tatin - 75hrv
Pink Almond Biscuit - 85hrv
Pinot Noir Reserve - 375hrv
Vittell - 105hrv

Grand Total: 1,815hrv

Teatro Restaurant (Opera Hotel, B Khmelnytskoho 53)
Hours: 06.30 23.00, 581-7070
www.opera-hotel.com

We Want Your Review!
Have you been to Teatro? Email us your review of the food, service and atmosphere. Include your name and well publish a sampling in Whats On!
Email editor@whatson-kiev.com to sound off.

by Neil Campbell

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.


    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.

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