Ukraine’s culinary heritage, despite its richness, remains relatively undiscovered by many Americans. Chef Johnny Clark, co-owner of Parachute in Chicago, aims to change this by introducing the flavors of Ukraine through his new restaurant, Anelya. Named in honor of his grandmother, Anelya offers a tribute to both her and the Ukrainian heritage. This sentiment is echoed not only in the menu but also in the restaurant’s design, with the tile pattern inspired by the floor of Clark’s grandmother’s childhood home in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Clark’s vision for Anelya is to showcase Ukraine’s unique culture, which he believes has been underrepresented worldwide. He will put a contemporary spin on traditional Ukrainian dishes, tapping into the exciting developments happening in Ukraine’s culinary scene.
The restaurant offers a memorable dining experience, starting with a custom Zakusky tower featuring small plates like sunflower-seed hummus, trout-roe tart, and biber dolmas with beef and Cahokia rice. The main courses bring a modern twist to Ukrainian classics, such as varenyky, similar to pierogis or ravioli, filled with saffron, potato, and jowl bacon. Holubtsi, stuffed cabbage, incorporates preserved tomato, spaghetti squash, and blank lentils, while Anelya’s borscht features duck, smoked pears, and cultured cream in beet broth.
Anelya’s diverse menu also includes larger meat and fish options, like barbecued chicken thighs with kefir and green ajika and sturgeon steak with caramelized onions, honey, and fish sauce. For dessert, guests can enjoy simple yet delightful treats like plums with spiced wine, walnuts, sweet cream, and ganache, or Ukrainian Kyiv cake with merengue, gianduja, and hazelnuts.
The drink offerings at Anelya feature a selection of wines exclusively from Eastern European countries. The cocktail menu is inspired by Ukrainian folk heroes, with creations like the Taras Shevchenko horseradish Martini, named after the 19th-century poet, writer, and political figure.
In the past, Clark drew attention to the conflict in Ukraine by hosting pop-up dinners featuring Ukrainian cuisine at his former restaurant, Wherewithall. With Anelya, he’s committed to making this culinary project a permanent fixture, providing a new home for Ukrainian culture in Chicago’s vibrant dining scene.