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Destinations · Europe · ukraine · Kiev · Insider's view ·

Insider: Irina Mettus

Author: Anothertravelguide.com0 COMMENTS

Insider: Irina Mettus

Irina Mettus. Life gourmet, travellista, art & design lover, foodie

What do you love most about Kiev?
Not an easy question for me, really – once I start, I could continue for hours on end. But if I have to be brief – I’d say its unique atmosphere and vital vibes. Kiev is an outstanding mixture of traditions and history, but it’s also dynamic, fast developing, and contemporary. 

How would you characterise the people of Kiev?
Much like many Eastern European cities, Kiev has changed significantly over the last decades. And so did the people of Kiev. 

If you look at the younger generations, they are 100% cosmopolitan liberals, whereas the older segments of society still hold on to the soviet style, one could say. But in general, the citizens of Kiev are quite friendly, open and warm. We love our city and we are proud of it. Most of us have our own personal 'map of Kiev', marked with all of our favourite places and sights which we like to share with friends and guests of the city.

Which neighbourhood(s) should we include on our itinerary in order to get a feel for the cultural soul of Kiev?
As an art & culture geek, I am uneasy with recommending just one, or even a couple, of spots –Kiev's cultural scene is simply too rich and versatile! Starting with the Kievan Rus monuments, up to the most avant-garde art pieces on exhibit in the PinchukArtCentre. 

Foto: Insider: Irina MettusFoto: Insider: Irina MettusFoto: Insider: Irina Mettus
Pechersksya Lavra monastery 

But if pressed, I’d say that the Pechersksya Lavra monastery (and its next-door neighbour, the Art Arsenal), the golden-domed Saint Sophia’s Cathedral, Volodymyrska Hill, and Vozdvizhenka district with its art galleries – these are the absolute 'musts'!

What is the silliest or strangest tradition in Kiev that is still alive today?
To bring home the following three souvenirs from Kiev: Kiev Cake, horylka (Ukrainian vodka), and salo (pork lard).

Which of your favourite restaurants/cafés would you recommend to the gourmet traveller in Kiev?
The restaurant scene is developing very actively now in Kiev, as well as in Ukraine as a whole. Meeting with friends, holding business lunches and family visits, or just going out for breakfast to a restaurant or a cafe has become a rather regular event – even a tradition – among Kievites in recent years. 

Today, one can easily find restaurants for each and every taste, for every budget and occasion – starting from exquisite gourmet seafood, up to home-style comfort food – and all of very high quality. 

Among my personal favourites are the following spots:
- Kanapa (Andriivs'kyi descent, 19) – the best place to get acquainted with modern Ukrainian cuisine; enjoy the large variety of flavours found in locally-sourced Ukrainian foods and produce whilst getting a feel for the vibes of Kiev's historical centre.

Foto: Insider: Irina Mettus
BEEF

- BEEF meat&wine (Shota Rustaveli St, 11) – for the perfect steak! Their salads, soups and desserts are nothing to scoff at either!

- REEF (reefkiev.com) – seafood prepared by a bona fide Michelin Chef from Antibes, and stylish design – it’s unbeatable!

Foto: Insider: Irina Mettus
Biancoro boutique bar 

- Biancoro boutique bar (4, Basseinaia St.) – the place to go for an extravagant cocktail or the perfect espresso, located in the fashionista Mecca known as the Mandarin Plaza shopping centre.

Where should one go for a perfect cup of coffee in Kiev?
Coffee culture is in its bloom right now in Kiev! Over the last three to four years, we rapidly switched from those cheap 3-in-1 sticks or regular instant coffee to freshly roasted beans, specialty monosorts, and alternative blends. Now we wisely choose a flowery Kenyan-sourced Chemex at midday in summer, or we’ll warm up with a Guatemalan Bourbon flat white on a chilly winter morning. 

Foto: Insider: Irina Mettus
Svit Kavy 

But this whole movement in Ukraine took off first in Lviv, the country's coffee capital, and the first 'pioneer' in this direction was the was legendary cafe Svit Kavy (Katedralna sq., 6-7, Lviv) and its founder, the charismatic Markiyan Bedriy. Nowadays, Kievites have the great luck of being able to also enjoy a perfect cup of Svit Kavy cappuccio, for they recently opened a coffee shop in Kiev’s Podol district. 

Foto: Insider: Irina MettusFoto: Insider: Irina MettusFoto: Insider: Irina Mettus
One Love

Among my personal favourites are both locations of One Love (onelove.ua). You can enjoy One Love coffee either at their cosy and bookish espresso bar near St. Nicholas Cathedral, or at their cafe in the stylish, crisp and white design space on the rooftop of PinchukArtCentre, at Arena City.

Which are you favourite food shops/markets in Kiev, and why?
The local food market is one of the first places I love to visit when I'm in a new city. It almost always perfectly exudes the essence of a city – lays it bare and cuts it open, one could say. So, if you want to not only see but feel the spirit of the city, you definitely must go to its main market! 

The same goes for Kiev – you should definitely visit Bessarabka, our central market located at the end of Khreshchstik Street. Not only to 'see, try and buy' the food, but also to enjoy the architecture of the space. But personally, I prefer to shop at Vladimirsky or Zhitny markets. Both are very "Kiev-style" as well, but they provide a richer assortment, and at much more reasonable prices.

Foto: Insider: Irina Mettus
Lucky Restaurant & Vinoteque

Of course, you should not miss GoodWine for a more sophisticated experience of shopping for food and wine. Superb quality, much is locally sourced, the staff is knowledgeable and the service wonderful, there’s a great variety of choice, and last but not least, it’s just a nice place to have a cup of aromatic coffee at Yellow Place, or a healthy gourmet lunch at Lucky Restaurant & Vinoteque.

Foto: Insider: Irina MettusFoto: Insider: Irina MettusFoto: Insider: Irina Mettus

Which are your favourite architectural landmarks in Kiev?
The golden-domed Saint Sophia’s Cathedral, Pechersksya Lavra, the Dniper river, and the view of Kiev from it.

Foto: Insider: Irina MettusFoto: Insider: Irina MettusFoto: Insider: Irina Mettus
Shevchenko 

Which are your favourite parks?
Kiev is a very green city, and Kievites are lucky to have a beautiful oasis in which to chill and calm down during the workday and on weekends, even in the very centre of the city. My ultimate faves are the Old Botanic Garden with its green and flowery beauties, and Shevchenko Park – with its Coffee Bus, ice cream kiosks, and plenty of designer benches.

Describe a perfect day in the city.
Waking up in my bedroom and enjoying the day’s very first cup of aromatic coffee, accompanied by a stunning view of the tops of the trees of the Botanic Garden and the golden domes of Volodymyrsky Cathedral. 

If I'm up to a quite substantial breakfast, I would definitely head to Milk Bar with its great variety of healthy-and-tasty dishes, seducing desserts, and superb atmosphere.  

What I also greatly love about Kiev – it is a city big enough, and at the same time, compact enough, for pleasant relaxing walks. As a big fan of walking, I would definitely go for a walk to Podol. It is one of the old historic areas of Kiev, with its own really unique charm. So, I would suggest starting my tour with a short visit to Zhytny Rynok market, even if only for a bunch of herbs or a cup of juicy berries. I would stroll down the old-fashioned streets of Podil with its typical brick buildings, enjoying views of the Dniper river, passing by tiny chapels and bigger, more ornate ones. Then I would definitely head to Vozdvizhenka district. One of the most ancient areas of the city, it was totally renovated during the last decade, and now it is kind of a small city within Kiev – with its own eclectic architectural style, and a unique atmosphere that is very lively and warm. This area hosts lots of creative companies and agencies, many art galleries, and local designers' shops. Vozdvizhenka is really full of good restaurants and cafes. But as for me, I will go for a 'big Ukrainian lunch', or even something light, at Kanapa, which is located in the middle of Andreevsky uzviz, right near Vozdvizhenka. Then passing by the beautiful Andreevsksya Church, enjoying the golden domes of Mihaylivsky Cathedral and the streamlined silhouette of Saint Sophia, I will stroll by Volodymyrska Street and right to the Golden Gates. Maybe I’ll make a short stop for a scoop of ice cream in a nice park nearby before continuing my walk to Bessarabkaya Square and Arena City.

After such a walk, cooling down or having a pleasant chat with friends – accompanied by a delicious five-o'clock cocktail on the sleek white terrace of the boutique bar Biancoro – would be a great idea!

Also, I probably wouldn’t say no to squeezing in some light shopping, or just taking a quick glance at 'what's new' in the boutiques of Mandarin Plaza.

Foto: Insider: Irina Mettus
REEF

As a final activity for an ideal day, I would definitely choose to have a hearty evening meal with a glass of good wine and friends in one of my favourite restaurants – either REEF or BEEF. That's all folks – My Perfect Day in Kiev.

Read more:
'For a perfect cup of coffee' by Irina Mettus
'Green City. Parks and gardens' by Irina Mettus

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