Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Slavic soul food coming to Siberia

Posted By on Wed, Apr 4, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Kukhnya will serve peirogi and other Slavic staples.

The stage at Siberia (2227 St. Claude Ave., 265-8855) has become a haven for all sorts of bands that don’t quite fit the conventional notion of New Orleans music. So maybe it’s appropriate that you won’t find a remoulade or roux anywhere near the new menu at its tavern kitchen.

Instead, Siberia will be serving Eastern European eats like pierogi, kielbasa, blini and beet salads. The new kitchen operation at the back of this hard-rocking St. Roch venue is called Kukhnya and Matt Ribachonek, the guy behind it, calls his cooking “Slavic soul food.”

“My grandma would be very proud,” he says with a laugh.

Ribachonek is a veteran of many local restaurant kitchens, including Fiorella’s Cafe (1136 Decatur St., 553-2155) back in the days when it was the launching pad for the New Orleans Bingo Show! More recently he was doing pop-ups, street food and catering under the moniker Streats McGee.

Those other gigs are on hold now as he develops Kukhnya, which debuts this Saturday, April 7, and will serve from 5 p.m. to midnight every night except Tuesday. In addition to the Slavic staples mentioned above, the menu includes a “Russki burger” with mushrooms, spinach and Russian dressing, a vegetarian beet burger with goat cheese, egg noodles, lots of pickled vegetables and the “Polboy” — a po-boy with Polish sausage, fried onions and kapusta, or spicy cabbage along the lines of sauerkraut.

Many of the recipes come from family traditions, but Ribachonek has modified them along the way to rev things up.

“Lots of Polish and Ukrainian food is basically pretty bland,” he says. “But working at restaurants for as long as I have I learned to add garlic and herbs and things like that.”

He’s also working on a brunch menu to serve on Sundays, though of course this will not be your typical jazz brunch. Called the “King James Whiskey Brunch,” it features R&B rocker King James on stage and it doesn’t even start until 5:30 p.m.

The Kukhnya debut isn’t the only food event at Siberia this weekend. On Friday, April 6, the venue hosts Pizzanity, a fundraiser for Pizza Delicious. This Bywater pop-up pizzeria plans to open a more conventional restaurant in the neighborhood, at 617 Piety St., and its owners are turning to their customers to raise money for the big move. They’ll be serving slices and the musical line-up for the night includes the Happy Talk Band, Sam Doores of the Tumbleweeds, Alynda Lee of Hurray for the Riff Raff, Meschiya Lake, Tuba Skinny, the Tintypes, Bunny Matthews & the Playboys and Jeff Treffinger & the Greezy Waste. Pizzanity begins at 8 p.m.

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