Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Secret Password

A visit to Lviv, Ukraine is not complete without dinner at a place called "Криївка" (or Kryjivka). The restaurant is in no way marked from the street. In fact, the front door is not on the sidewalk, but a ways into the building. Upon knocking on the front door, a peep hole opens and a deep voice asks who goes there. After we assured the man that it was just harmless Julia and Yuriy who love animals and children, he cracked the door and asked for a password. We appropriately replied, “Слава Україні!” (Praise to Ukraine). His response- “Героям слава!” (Praise to the heroes). He graciously opened the door for our entry and treated us to a shot of honey vodka. Again he tested us by saying “Слава Україні” and waited for our response of “Героям слава”. A bookcase full of books suddenly swiveled around and revealed a secret staircase. As we crept downstairs, we found ourselves in a huge, but cozy, cave-like restaurant, plastered with Ukrainian military memorabilia and buzzing with people.

Apparently Криївка was the actual hiding place for the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (a nationalist partisan army that formed during WWII, whose goal was an independent Ukraine) and has now been transformed into this clever restaurant in their memory. Halfway through dinner, the waiters and waitresses had a formal (and comedic) ceremony for “changing shifts”. They lined up in rows, saluted, and shouted things in great military fashion. From our dinner table, we could watch surveillance cameras that showed the entrance of the restaurant, which made it feel oh so very high-security.

We were told about this restaurant by friends back in Seattle and again by our tour guide, so it’s apparently no secret with visitors. Both sources told us the secret password for entrance.  Regardless, we still felt very undercover and too cool for our own good. On top of the fun atmosphere, our dinner was delicious—we started the meal with borsht served in classic metal bowls. For entrees, Yuriy had a steak with potatoes and I had vareniki with bacon and onions (one of my absolute favorite dishes!). For dessert we shared a heavenly baked apple. 

- Julia

P.S. We only had our baby point and shoot camera on hand and it was dark, so the photos aren't the best quality. Forgive us!