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First Look: Tryzub Blends Food, Art, Culture in Heart of Ukrainian Village

By Alisa Hauser | June 3, 2016 9:57am
 Inside Tryzub Ukrainian Kitchen.
Tryzub Ukrainian Kitchen
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UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — A restaurant that serves traditional Ukrainian fare with an American twist — think gluten-free kale-stuffed pierogies — plans to launch its dinner service Thursday, its owner says.

Anchoring a modern four-story condo building at the southwest corner of Chicago and Leavitt avenues, Tryzub Ukrainian Kitchen is owned by eye doctor Myron Lewyckyj, who showcases family recipes like Mama Gena's pork burger on a pretzel bun and Aunt Nyska's schnitzel marinated in "secret sauce."

[View the entire menu.]

Offering a formal dining room and more casual bar and carryout kitchen area —  plus plans in July for a sidewalk patio and walk-up window selling crepes and espresso to morning commuters — the restaurant draws its namesake from the Ukrainian coat of arms, pronounced "treh-zoob."

Reporter Alisa Hauser takes us inside Tryzub.

During a tour of the restaurant, 2201 W. Chicago Ave., earlier this week, Lewyckyj said the goal is to make Ukrainian dishes a choice in Chicago for people who enjoy eating at ethnic restaurants. He wants people of all backgrounds to experience Ukrainian food and learn about the Eastern European nation's culture.

"Ukraine is a country of almost 50 million people, we want to use our restaurant as a way to familiarize everyone with this beautiful country and its people, make it a place for Ukrainians to introduce their American friends to our food," he said.

Lewyckyj was raised in Norwood Park but came to Ukrainian Village several times each week while growing up: Sunday church, Ukrainian school on Saturdays and Ukrainian Boy Scout troop events midweek.

At least once each year, Lewyckyj visits Ukraine for humanitarian medical missions, providing free eye care services and cataract surgeries.

Recently, former heavyweight champion and mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, was a guest of honor at a special reception, according to Tryzub's spokesman Robbie Schloss, who posted photos of Klitschko's visit on the restaurant's Facebook page.

There are 70 seats in the dining room, which can also be rented for private parties, and a more informal 20-seat area along the bar where patrons can place orders for carryout meals while drinking Ukrainian beers, sour cherry wine and cocktails.

Workers taste small plates with kitchen manager Edwin Santiago; assistant GM Ihor Draganchuk with a cocktail. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

Chef Vlad Redka, who moved to Chicago from Ukraine this spring, and kitchen manager Edwin Santiago, who previously worked at Division Street's Picante, have crafted a menu divided into small plates, entrees, soups and salads.

Most entrees such as Goulash and kabobs are between $12 and $14, topping out with a braised pork shank, $22. A hearty "small plate" charcuterie board with seared pork belly, kielbasa pate, mustard and pickles is $12.

Handmade pierogi is available in four varieties, including traditional (white potato), as well as beet-infused, carrot-infused and kale. Also offered are savory chicken, salmon and veggie-stuffed crepes.

Many of the dishes contain bryndza cheese, made with sheep milk. Cabbage and sauerkraut are also popular ingredients.

For history buffs, the timeline of Ukraine is infused throughout Tryzub's decor. Blue-and-yellow mosaics over the entryway signify national colors; a framed drawing reminds folks to never forget Holdomor, the 1930s famine that killed millions of Ukrainians; and black-and-red bathrooms adopt the colors of the Ukrainian insurgency army.

Assistant general manager Ihor Draganchuk — who has lived in Ukrainian Village since 1949 and is somewhat of a museum curator as he walks patrons through the interior — points out mosaic tile floors, crystal chandeliers and glass-encased Cossack-era artifacts from Lewyckyj's personal collection dating back to Medieval Europe's first democracy in 1500.

Embroidered hangings made by Lewyckyj's wife, mother and grandmother adorn the walls.

Schloss said that beginning noon Friday, reservations will be accepted for dinners starting Thursday. Weekend brunch will begin June 17 and weekday lunch hours, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., start June 21.

Tryzub Ukrainian Kitchen, 2201 W. Chicago Ave. Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-midnight Fridays, 10 a.m.-midnight Saturdays and 10 a.m.- p.m. Sundays. Quick service walk-up window hours, starting in July, will be 7-11 a.m. Tuesdays-Fridays. Closed Mondays. Phone: 773-698-8624.

Tryzub Ukrainian Kitchen's natural light filled dining room. [Photos by DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

Chef Vlad Redka.

Tryzub Ukrainian Kitchen's owner Myron Lewyckyj.

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