If you are in a hurry, Citronelle may not be the best dining option for you. This French restaurant in the heart of historic Kyiv bills itself as a “slow food restaurant” and it is not hard to see why. Everything about Citronelle, from the venue’s intimate interior and abstract artworks to its intricately crafted dishes and imported tableware, seems deliberately designed to serve as the antithesis of generic fast food culture. It is the kind of place where dining is an experience to be savored by all the senses.
Opened in 2011, the restaurant is the work of Maria Didkovska. Every summer, she takes the Citronelle team on a French gastronomic adventure where they hunt down dish ideas, sample new ingredients and generally seek fresh inspiration across the country. This geographically diverse approach is immediately evident in the Citronelle menu, which offers a culinary tour of France complete with handy regional references alongside every dish. The nourishing and potent onion soup is from Lyon, while the spicy tomato soup is a Nice creation. The grilled octopus is from Champagne, while the highly rated “Pot-au-Feu” veal cheeks with vegetable ratatouille are from Alsace. Absolutely everything on the menu is French, while much of it is imported. The venue also strictly adheres to the seasons of the French culinary calendar, with dishes like snails and truffles only available at certain times of the year.
Citronelle has a number of partners in France who provide menu ideas and come to Ukraine to conduct training weeks for kitchen staff. The restaurant also regularly welcomes Michelin Star chefs to Kyiv for special evenings where guests can enjoy a range of exclusive culinary delights. Following each such occasion, Ms. Didkovska and her team are careful to incorporate any popular new creations into the standard menu. One of the most recent additions is the sensationally smooth lemon tart with Chantilly cream and lemon sorbet from Toulouse.
Despite sitting in the very center of Kyiv, Citronelle is a cozy place with seating for just 62 guests that feels far from the hustle and bustle of big city life. It is located directly opposite the National Opera House in a building that was once home to a leading ballerina and served as a popular spot for Tsarist era society gatherings. This cultural tradition lives on in Citronelle’s own live music evenings, with jazz concerts at the venue every Friday from 20:00. In a bid to encourage the cultural life of the city, the restaurant also offers free glasses of sparkling wine to guests who come to dine following a trip to the nearby opera.
The arrival of spring in the Ukrainian capital means the return of the Citronelle summer terrace, which significantly boosts the venue’s capacity while providing an excellent vantage point to watch the passing ebb and flow of central Kyiv. An extensive champagne and wine card adds to the appeal of the summer terrace, making it a popular spot for unrushed afternoons and lazy evenings of Gallic bonhomie.
23 Bohdan Khmelnitskiy Street
Monday-Friday: 09:00 until last customer
Saturday-Sunday: 10:00 until last customer