As more and more Slavs move out of the East Village, their presence is being felt less and less. Two major landmarks recently disappered: Leshko's and Kiev.
Of course, both are still standing. It's just that both have been renovated, reimagined and reopened, losing much (if not all) of their Ukrainian flavor along the way.
First to go was Leshko's (111 Avenue A at 7th Street), which opened in 1957. New owners closed down the old-school favorite in 1999 and turned it into something that ended up in an issue of Wallpaper* not long after. The menu lost almost all of its Slavic dishes, with the exception of pierogies. But they were reworked almost beyond recognition - mushroom and leek pierogies?
That state of affairs lasted until the fall of 2003, when it changed hands again and things went from bad to worse as far as the Slavic state of the place was concerned (check out ‘New Leshko’s’ closes; end of pierogis from the Villager). It is now a pan-Latin restaurant called Yuca, bar and cocina Latina.
Now, the iconic Kiev (117 Second Avenue at 7th Street) is gone too. Opened sometime in the 1970s, the restaurant opened its doors after two years of renovations in February of 2004. The change was dramatic, as far as the interior design was concerned. And as far as the menu was concerned. Kiev became... an Asian restaurant. An Asian restaurant that serveed fish and shrimp pierogies, beet ginger blintzes and potato pancakes made from parsnips... Now, even that incarnation of Kiev is history. As of late September, the restaurant has "For Rent" signs in the window (check out The Anti-Plywood: Taqueria de Mexico, Fluff, Kiev at Eater).
But, all is not lost - the East Village does still boast a number of authentic Ukrainian restaurants: Odessa, the Ukrainian East Village Restaurant and Veselka, at least. Enjoy them while you still can...
(Photo: (above) Before, from http://www.dyske.com/index.php?view_id=356, and (middle) After, from http://www.palateking.com/l.html and (below) http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/yuccactus0704/4476072.html)