Now here’s a story that’s all about making the best of an awful situation. Back in February 2022, Yurii Kovryzhenko and his partner Olga Tsybytovska journeyed to London for a brief trip to cook at the Ukrainian Embassy and raise the profile of Ukrainian cuisine. At least, it was supposed to have been a brief trip. While they were here, the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, displacing millions of people and preventing them from returning. The duo decided to stay in London to raise relief funds for Ukraine through a series of charity dinners – and now, they’re taking the London-Ukraine connection to another level, with the opening of Mriya Neo Bistro.
The food at Mriya
Kovryzhenko has filled the menu with his trademark Borsch, Chicken Kyiv, and more, including courgette pancakes with stracciatella, and smoked trout and vinaigrette with strawberries, green pea cream, and crayfish necks. Sounds pretty good, right? Dishes are planted firmly in tradition, with an eye for modernization and excitement. It’s a delightful blend of classical and contemporary Ukrainian cuisine. Kovryzhenko – who’s previously opened eateries in Lviv and Seoul – aims to show off the “taste and cosiness” of Ukrainian food. A frigid winter’s evening in London would definitely be improved by a warming bowl of borsch, for instance. And you most definitely will find yourself hankering after another bowl of borsch, or their lunchtime exclusive varenyky.
Mriya is almost entirely staffed by refugees from Ukraine, so it’s pretty apt that the name means ‘dream’ in Ukrainian. With space for 37 diners across the restaurant and terrace, every detail inside seeks to illuminate and highlight Ukrainian culture. Furniture and décor, even the tiles on the floor, come from Ukrainian designers and makers. It’s a wholescale celebration of Ukraine, and every dish and interaction is imbued with love and hope. Mriya is a dream come true…