Of the vast and varied dumplings available to diners in this city, vareniki and pelmeni — the doughy product of Russian and Ukrainian kitchens — are among the hardest to get right; perfect specimens are both hearty and delicate. At Café Glechik, the Brighton Beach café Vadim Tesler opened in 1998, the Eastern European dumplings are right, and they crowd every table. Their skins thin, they come stuffed with meats both red and white, and vegetables like cabbage and potatoes. Sometimes they swim in butter, and they're always served with a sauceboat of sour cream on the side. Even after a dough-pocket-filled meal, save room for dessert iterations filled with sour cherries or sweet cheese. Other menu highlights include holodets, a meat jelly, and hearty soups like green borscht with rice and eggs. Porridge-like kulesh, a millet and potato stew, eats like a cross between oatmeal and mashed potatoes. Heady braises like stuffed cabbage sitting in paprika-tinted butter, or the beef- and prune-studded “Odessa,” fill deep serving platters large enough to share. With so much starch and lip-glossing fat at play, find respite in cups of the homemade fruit punch called compote, a macerated mix of cherries, apples, and pears. Tesler's grandmother and great-grandmother were popular caterers in his hometown of Odessa. At Glechik he honors his family's history while carving out a space of his own here in New York.
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