3472 North Elston Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60618
Price: $$$$$

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Anelya - Chicago

Anelya is the latest effort from husband/wife team of Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim (Parachute, Wherewithall), who now serve up a menu of Ukranian classics. Named after Clark's grandmother, the restaurant is perhaps the first in Chicago to offer elevated Ukrainian cuisine.

The Anela menu advises, "Start with a Zakusky Tower of cured meats, fish and fermented vegetables before diving into larger plates of traditional Ukrainian favorites with a modern twist. Enjoy seasonal variations on Ukrainian classics such as Varenyky and Holubtsi. Add a touch of elegance and folklore to your dishes with a glass of exclusively Eastern European wines, or cocktails made with infusions of horseradish vodka and our specialty Piana Vishnya."

If some of those foods are unfamiliar, that's good: dining at Anelya can be an adventure to those who are unfamiliar with the foods of Ukraine.

So let's clarify. Zakusky are cold appetizers, like a hummus of seeds from the sunflower (the enduring symbol of the Ukraine, and incidentally, a gift from Illinois to this former Soviet state), fried Crimean style olives, marinated mushrooms, and herring in (you guessed it) sunflower oil.

There's a section of the menu devoted to dumplings and noodles, and there are some interesting variations offered by Clark and Kim. Vereneky are dumplings stuffed with saffron, potato and jowl bacon; halushki is a bed of buttery noodles with short ribs, which sounds like ultimate comfort food to us. There's also borscht with duck broth and smoked pears (!); holubsti is preserved tomato, spaghetti squash and black lentils (and, yes, it is possible to have a largely vegetarian dinner at Anelya).

Some surprising Eastern European options include barbecue chicken thighs with kefir and sturgeon steak.

Desserts include plums in sweet cream, pomegranate sorbet with pickled spruce tips, and Napoleon puff pastry.

To drink, we suggest the Eastern European wines.