You know how you always hear stories about how the best recipes from a particular place come from mom? Well, at a new cafe on Chicago Avenue, mom is literally back in the kitchen, making everything from savory blintzes and pierogi to an abundance of sweets with a strong Ukrainian accent.
There is truly more than meets the eye at the spiffy new Shokolad, on the cusp of Humboldt Park and Ukrainian Village. The name alone implies something sweet.
"We try to find something that Eastern Europeans would recognize as their own and you know, if somebody that doesn't speak Ukrainian or Russian or Polish, if they actually say it out loud, they would recognize the fact, 'oh, it's chocolate, it has to do with something sweet," said Anna Fedus of Shokolad Pastry and Cafe.
Without question, there are sweets everywhere, especially in the front display case: opera cake, passionfruit macadamia nut chocolate mousse cake and plenty of tarts. There are also some tasty savory options, such as the crepes, which are technically blintzes.
"When we write on the menu even, we'll say Ukrainian crepe, and these are sweet cheese which has a little bit of vanilla, a little sugar, and it's garnished with berry compote," Fedus said.
Paninis arrive on Red Hen country bread and range from veggie to tuna salad, all arriving with tiny Russian carrot side salads. Soups are also prevalent.
"Borscht is the most popular soup in Eastern Europe. You go to Russia or you go to Ukraine, you'll always find it in somebody's house, and we have pierogies as well," said Fedus.
They come either fruit-filled, or stuffed with delicious potato and cheese. For an authentic garnish, ask for them doused in a little bacon and rendered fat.
The great thing about having all of the breakfast and lunch options, is you get to choose from an extensive list of sweets to finish off with. Whether you opt for bite-sized cheesecake lollipops or raspberry thumbprint cookies, you'll certainly be able to find something that strikes a chord.
"We do Ukrainian-style cheesecake, but we use farmer's cheese instead of cream cheese, so the texture is different," Fedus said.
Everything is made fresh. So, while it might take a few minutes to get your order, it's definitely worth the wait.
Shokolad Pastry and Cafe
2524 W. Chicago Ave.
CORRECTION: Shokolad is a Ukrainian restaurant. The piece that originally aired on ABC7's 11 a.m. broadcast erroneously referred to it as Russian.