Uncle Vanya Cafe

Restaurants, Russian Hell's Kitchen
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(4user reviews)
2 Love It
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Uncle Vanya Cafe
Uncle Vanya Cafe
Named for an appropriately gloomy Chekhov play, this dank Russian eatery turns out the kind of lusterless food best eaten in exile. Though vareniki—plump dumplings stuffed with potato and onion—were passable, blini arrived with a stingy pot of rancid-tasting red caviar. Beef Stroganoff was equally forlorn; the dry, fibrous slices of beef sulked in an oppressive sour cream sauce. A dessert of honey and sour cream blini dotted with tart black cherries was better but hardly redemptive. Our advice: Skip Vanya and head to the nearby Russian Samovar. If it’s good enough for Mikhail Baryshnikov, it’s good enough for you.


Venue name: Uncle Vanya Cafe
Address: 315 W 54th St
New York
Cross street: between Eighth and Ninth Aves
Opening hours: Mon–Thu noon–11pm; Fri, Sat noon–midnight; Sun 2–10pm
Transport: Subway: N, Q, R, W to 57th St
Price: Average main course: $12. MC, V
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Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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  • 1 star:2
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I don't know much about authentic Russian food, but I did come here with 3 Russian accomplices who deemed the food "good" - but nothing extravagant. The pelmeni were a table-favorite I think, and they were pretty big fans of the borscht. I had stuffed cabbage, though one cabbage leaf was totally inedible - I literally couldn't cut or chew it, so I just dug out the stuffing (which is the good part anyway). Come for a comfortable atmosphere to drink and socialize, and be sure to make use of the crayons and paper tablecloths for a REALLY good time. 

First served bitten cabbage rolls, then half an hour trying to get the waiter's attention who enthusiastically talked with someone on the phone about some of the music business (apparently this is the main activity of the restaurant). Food looks unfresh. Design looks dirty. All this is reminiscent of Soviet canteen (Russian people will understand what I mean) in the end of the evening we saw a mouse ran down the hall ... it was like a nightmare. horrible place!!! if you want to try authentic Russian cuisine, look for another restaurant!

Didn't notice anything warm and cozy here. Gloomy is the right word for this place. Borsch without meat, Olivier is very average, staffed cabbage smells weird. The only good thing was bread. 20% of tips is mandatory and automatically added to the bill. Hoped to find nice Russian food in the neighborhood, but it was a big disappointment..

Uncle Vanya is a really great restaurant. They have the best Russian traditional salad Olivier in New York. No other restaurant in town can prepare this dish properly. My other favorite dishes include borscht, blini, stuffed cabbage, pelmeni, and freshly baked black bread. This bread is unforgettable! It tastes like home. Every dish in this place is made with quality ingredients -- you can't miss. The owner is there every day and she pays attention to every detail. She has created a warm and cozy atmosphere that makes you want to sit there all day. I just love it!