Shinok

Shinok is a Ukrainian restaurant located on the forgotten borough of Staten Island, a borough not really known for their great Ukrainian cuisine. So I was a little skeptical when a friend of mine had invited me to join her and her family for dinner. Although, my parents are natives of the Ukraine I could not resist a meal from mother Russia no matter what borough it was on.

The restaurant is nestled in a small strip mall on Hylan Boulevard. If you did not pay attention you would definitely miss the place. Inside you will find the entire restaurant is done up like a Ukraine country farmhouse, with heavy wooden furniture, farm tools, old-fashioned utensils, and embroidered cloths on the wall. The wait staff was dress in traditional Russian folk shirts. The restaurant is quite small but not cramped. Our wooden lacquered table had fit 6 people comfortably. The staff seemed to be setting up for a private party other than that there were only a few people inside

Our drink orders were taken and I started to scan through the bi-lingual menu of Russian and English. Immediately I look for my favorite Ukrainian appetizer, Julienne. Julienne is a dish that consists of mushrooms, fried in olive oil with garlic, seasoned with salt and pepper. Then it is stuffed into a clay pot and topped with Swiss cheese, mozzarella cheese, and then baked in a oven until the cheese starts to bubble and brown. As the waitress returns with our drinks we place our orders. We start off with a few salads. A Greek salad: cucumber, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and olive oil. A basic Caesar salad that had a minor twist. Instead of your basic chicken or shrimp the salad was served with eel. A garden fresh salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, and radish. Our salads arrive and we give our entrée order. I decided to go with the lamb shish kebab with home fried potatoes. After a few words about the crumbling real estate market our salads had arrived. The salads seemed to be mediocre. Except for the Caesar salad with eel which had a nice balance of sweet and savory, a refreshing change to your average Caesar salad. If you are wondering what happened to my Julienne, somewhere in the mix I had forgotten to order it. I didn't realize it until we had left the restaurant. You could imagine how upset I was.

After we finished our salads the first entrée had arrived. Ten minutes later another entrée was brought out. It seemed they were going to serve each dish one by one. This was kind of frustrating to me. I believe food should be enjoyed by everyone at the same time. The restaurant seems fairly new but could definitely take a lesson on the execution timing of dishes. My dish had arrived last. I guess they were saving the best for last. My lamb shish kebab was excellent. A tender juicy morsel of goodness that was completed with a Russian shish kebab sauce which consists of crushed plum tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar, and cilantro. My dish came along with home fried potatoes which were pretty good but were very over seasoned and deep fried. A disappointment for me. When I think of home fried potatoes I picture my grandmother in the kitchen hand peeling the potatoes frying them in a pan that she had taken with her from Russia, because she was worried America had no frying pans. Just the thought of a Mexican, over seasoning, and deep frying my potatoes made me cringe.

Our meal had come to an end. Overall everyone at the table had agreed the food was excellent. Everyone decided not to order dessert because no one could eat another bite. The bill came to $130 with tip for 6 people which is a steal. I would rate Shinok a 2 out of 4.

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