Monday, January 7, 2013

More business lunches

2013 has gotten off to a strong start for us. You know those two resolutions that everyone always has? Spend less money and go on a diet? Well, I can promise you that so far we've been sticking to it!

Of course, this is not out of a noble quest for betterment. This is simply because we ran out of money. My school shut down for the holiday season and December pay won't be issued until the new classes start. D's company also had a holiday break and with it, a break from paychecks. Our last paychecks quickly dwindled down to nothing. First came the holiday gatherings and parties. Then came our new phones (more on that later). And the final blow was my recent obscene laziness. Usually I plan out meals in advance, send D off to work with a lunch, all that good stuff.
But for the last week and a half, if not at a holiday-something-or-other, I was probably watching inspirational and educational videos emailed by friends (like this one). (If you actually clicked, I do apologize :P ) There was no energy for cooking and since we both were at home, we ended up spending the last of our cash at {cough, cough} McDonalds and on mid-day business lunches.

Not that I regret it. You remember that I love business lunches, right?

Here was one of my favorites. It's from Mafia, the Italian side of the Italian/Japanese chain that we visited for an earlier sushi business lunch. The food was okay, small portions and nothing that special for the rather high price, but check this out- you can order it online! And it was delivered in cool black boxes with reusable containers.

Just go to and click on бизнес-ланч. Lunch costs 55 uah and includes delivery. The meal pictured above is: unagi soup, salad w/ chicken and beans (honey mustard dressing), rice with salmon (yummy), and pana cotta "light" with strawberry sauce. Yes, the website is in Russian but the ordering process is wonderful- just click on the pictures of what you want. Then grab a Russian-speaker or get ready to practice yourself, because within a few minutes an operator will call you up to confirm the order and arrange payment (we paid the driver in cash). Mafia's business lunch is offered from 12 PM to 5 PM.

A few days later we went to Cinema Cafe on Pushkinskaya street to try their take on the business lunch.

Left: business lunch ad for Cinema Cafe
Right: exterior shot, taken back when there was no cold winter snow piled everywhere!

I don't think they actually show movies here (or do they?) but the cinema theme is heavily incorporated into the menu. One of the lunch choices was this: Fish for Harry. When Harry Potter was young, he loved fish baked with vegetables because this dish is an indispensable source of the phosphorus needed for the brain to work. Another choice on the menu: Vegetarian salad for Brad Pitt. In fact, it was almost difficult to order for this reason. "What exactly is the здравствуй, столица! (Hello, capital!) salad?" I asked the waiter. "Oh, it's a very good salad. I'm sure you'll like it!" At least he was right.

Top left: borsch, veggie salad, mashed potatoes, stuffed pepper
Bottom left: mushroom soup, capital salad, chicken по-купечески, gretchka

Out of the three restaurants in this post, this one gives you the most for your money. Instead of a set price, items have an individual cost ranging from 8 uah to 24 uah. Also, with your three main lunch items you're given the choice of a fourth (rice, mashed potatoes, gretchka) and served tea or узвар afterwards, plus they'll bring you a basket of tasty bread on the side. Just be careful- they stop serving the biz lunch early, around 3 PM... then you'll have to order off the regular menu.

And finally, Cafe Bar Maybe offers a Mon-Fri business lunch from 12 - 4 PM for 39 uah. What you get depends on the day you show up; we came on a Wednesday so it was chicken noodle soup, mushroom salad, жаркое в горшочке (pot roast?), and tea/узвар. Узвар, by the way, is the ubiquitous drink of business lunches. It supposedly comes from fruit but it usually tastes like pure sugar water. Anyways, Cafe Bar Maybe is also on Pushkinskaya, almost directly across the street from Cinema Cafe.

Yum, they're also open for fairly cheap breakfasts!

We ate here several months ago so my memory is a little fuzzy. Aside from a bartender and a waiter, the place was deserted. The food was average but the decor made up for it. Our mushroom salads didn't actually have any mushrooms; instead they contained a surprising (and welcome) amount of that most elusive vegetable- lettuce!

So, there you have it! 3 more places to consider adding to your "Kharkov Dining" list   : ) Now excuse me while I go and eat some plain rice for the next two weeks.

*summer 2013 update: Cafe Bar Maybe has since closed. I guess being deserted was a regular thing for them.*


  1. You're so much more adventurous in your Kharkiv restaurant exploration than I am. Whenever we're too hungry to wait until we get home we just eat in the university cafeteria or hit up Puzata Hata. Maybe when I get back to Kharkiv I'll try some new places!

    1. I like Puzata Hata too :p It's hard to resist that place sometimes!

      What's the university cafeteria like? Can you order things or is it a usual buffet line?

  2. In the basement of the main building it is your typical Ukrainian buffet line, but on each floor there is a little kiosk/cafe serving all sorts of treats where we often find ourselves between classes. Because who can resist a cup of tea or one of those mayonnaise-smothered горячие бутерброды?

  3. I need you to come here and do the same thing. We could definitely use some more cheap and easy lunch options!

    1. Hi itinerantyak, I'd love to :p Have you tried вареничная Победа there in Kiev? (