On a warm day in Pasadena my mom, two aunts and I stopped in at Roxolana before going on the semi-annual tour of Castle Green. Roxolana has been around for a couple of months now and, to my knowledge, is the only Ukrainian restaurant in the area. Ukrainian food is not wholly unfamiliar to us, as we are of Polish decent and have had similar dishes routinely prepared for us for older matriarchs of our family. Nothing is ever exactly the same, not even in the same country, so we were eager to try out Roxolana.
The interior is exactly a kind of medieval revival look, but still too modern to warrant a picture here. We were served bread with a homemade pesto dipping sauce, but as the bread was just store bought thin, grossly soggy wheat slices, they really should not have bothered. Plus, this is seriously heavy food. No fillers, please.
Ukrainian style Pierogi
Pierogi – bread pastry stuffed with meat (one order) and cabbage (another order). Served with a olive oil and herb dipping sauce.
These were just okay, as I prefer the dumpling style and filled with potatoes or mushrooms. My family loved these, though. Mom really dug the cabbage pierogi.
I ordered the appetizer Julienne, chicken and mushrooms in a rich sour cream sauce. Why this is an appetizer I will never know; I was nearly full by the time I finished this overwhelmingly rich dish. This is not for anyone with any adverse side effects to dairy! It was gooey, stringing and thick like cheese and filled with savory chunks of chicken and mushrooms.
This was a special of the day on a separate menu. It is a potato cake stuffed with mix meat in a mushroom cream sauce. They messed up my order and gave me cabbage and had to remake the whole dish. It was really worth the trouble, though. Rich, stick-to-your-bones good. I could only handle one, though, and saved the rest for another day.
My aunt C. ordered a cabbage and mushroom crepe and European salad (tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, olives, tuna, croutons, olive oil). She really enjoyed both.
My aunt N. ordered Golubty – meat and rice stewed in tomato sauce and stuffed in cabbage. She had nothing but praise for it.
Mom ordered Vereniki, one of the signature dishes. Dumplings stuffed with meat and fried onions. Served with sour cream. She thought it was out of this world.
The service was slow and disjointed. There were some miscommunications and questions were met with blank stares before answered with limited English. Prices of some entrees were a little more than I would pay, but the majority was decently priced. While the food went down deliciously, it sat a bit heavily in our stomachs, though this was also due in part to the heat of the day. Next time, I’ll keep the weather in mind and go during the cooler months.
Ultimately, I would return to Roxolana because the food is comforting, unique and, most of all, damn good.
34 S Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91105