What:A self-proclaimed Ukrainian “neo-bistro” that has just opened on Brompton Road in the Chelsea area of London. The restaurant, named Mriya, which means ‘dream’ in Ukrainian, aims to become a ‘cultural embassy’ of Ukraine in London, showcasing food, design, art and drinks.
Who: Mriya is the first restaurant venture of prominent Ukrainian chef Yurii Kovryzhenko and his partner Olga Tsybytovska, who were stranded in London following the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. Kovryzhenko was previously a “culinary ambassador” of Ukraine and was in London promoting his country’s national gastronomy when Russia began invading his country in February. He and Tsybytovska decided to stay and actively participated in charitable activities, raising funds for Ukraine. Over the following four months, Kovryzhenko hosted more than 20 charity dinners, raising around £400,000. Kovryzhenko runs the kitchen at Mriya, while Tsybytovska oversees the front of the house.
The food: Kovryzhenko’s menu combines Ukrainian gastronomic heritage, including elements of pickling and fermenting, with French cooking techniques, which the chef describes as “Ukrainian haute cuisine”. There are 24 dishes in total, divided into starters, salads, soups, main courses and desserts. Those less familiar with Ukrainian cuisine may find that there isn’t much that is familiar on the menu, although recognizable traditional dishes such as borscht and Kyiv chicken are present. Meanwhile, other dishes include zucchini pancakes with stracciatella and smoked trout; Oxtail ‘holodets’ with horseradish; root salad with strawberries, pea mousse and crawfish tails; Beef rolls with plums, buckwheat and mushroom sauce; Wheat with porcini mushrooms, herbs and beef tongue steak or celeriac steak; and barley risotto with seafood and red cabbage, miso sauce. There are also desserts like honey cake; and apple pie with nut crumble and honey. Given the restaurant’s SW5 postcode, prices are arguably kept very reasonable, with smaller plates ranging from £10-15 and larger dishes around the £25 mark.
The drink: The wine list for Mriya was compiled by Corrigan’s Mayfair’s sommelier, Ukrainian Dmytro Goncharuk, and consists of notable Ukrainian wines, including a number of casks sourced from the Beykush winery in the Mykolaiv region, which is currently suffering shelling. Mriya also offers its guests a unique opportunity to taste Berryland Cider, whose award-winning cider house near the town of Irpin in the Kyiv region was completely destroyed by Russian forces in the first days of the war. The last cider supplies from the warehouses were delivered especially for Mriya.
The atmosphere: The design of the 60-seat dining room was developed by the Ukrainian architectural bureau Replus Bureau. Especially for the restaurant, products of modern Ukrainian industrial designers, works of art, as well as authentic centuries-old furniture and decorations from Ukraine’s architectural salvage workshop Restare were delivered to London. A chest of drawers from the 19th century, which was once found in an abandoned house in the city of Lviv, serves as a waiter’s desk.
And also: Mriya is occupied entirely by Ukrainian refugees, almost all of whom came to London to seek shelter after the Russian invasion. The 15-strong restaurant team consists of chefs, pastry chefs, ex-lawyers, teachers, entrepreneurs, managers and university students.
275 Old Brompton Rd, London SW5 9JA