The Burgerator.com Review:
Breaking News: Burgers Decidedly Not Ukranian Soul Food
The magnitude of an event is not always obvious to you when you live through it; oftentimes its importance only become more clear in retrospect. Such was the burger ranking experience we endured at Veselka.
2 bites into the burger I had a strong feeling that this ranking was going to go sideways. The medium-rare burger I ordered came to the table with not a hint of heat emanating from the center. We're talking raw here people. As I surveyed the other burgerators, it became clear almost every one of us received a burger at least one level under-cooked from where it was ordered.
Still, we pressed on, to no avail. The overwhelming sentiment was that the burger, while edible, had absolutely no characteristic that was remarkable over any other burger we've tasted. The taste scores illustrate this point, with Veselka battling for last place taste with the likes of New York Burger Co. and The Counter (ugh, the Counter). Where was the flavor? Why was the bun? I cannot fathom why this burger gains praise from some of the higher ups in the NYC burger world, but I can only guess that either something went terribly wrong at the time while we we're there, or this place is reserved for a 3am drunk-munchies cult crowd. Unfortunately, I won't give Veselka the benefit of the doubt on the former.
While we didn't sample them, my guess is that Veselka does a darn good boiled potato pierogi, judging by their other pierogis and potato being one of the traditional fillings. However, boiled potato is the only preparation Veselka seems to be familiar with. The french fried potato sub-par at best. While the fries seemed to have a nice cut, something was missing in the flavor department. Most burgerators felt that the fries we're simply not that great. One reviewer in particular detected a hint of ammonia, which is not a key ingredient in french fries if memory serves. The sweet potato fries did seem to fare better, with an equal compliment to complaint ratio (0:0).
As for the ambiance, it is your typical diner ambiance (sans booths, -1). Some people are into the diner experience, others are not. We we're seated inside, but if you can, definitely grab some seats outside, weather-permitting. The people watching scene is top notch at this location.
In terms of price, well, its hard to talk about value at a restaurant where the product is not desirable. However, if we are speaking stictly about $$/oz, Veselka does well. An 8oz. patty for $12 (with fries) is a decent deal in NYC (8oz puts the patty size in the top 10, and the $12 price gives Veselka a top half ranking for lowest price).
All other scores suffered bigtime, from sloppiness to service to accesories. It is worth mentioning that the pierogis (which we tried) and other Ukranian "soul food" (which we didn't try) is probably your best bet here. Overall, Veselka went down as the second worst burger of the 46 NYC burgers we've rated at the time. During my first few bites, I had a feeling this wasn't going to end well. Only now can I fully appreciate just how disappointing the experience was.