Dish of the Week: sPACYcLOUd’s pelmeni

Media Credit: Nora Fitzgerald | Staff Photographer

sPACEYcLOUD’s Russian dumplings combine the flavors of vegan chicken, spices and broth.

Make your way to Adams Morgan to check out sPACYcLOUd, a hip restaurant restaurant filled with funky decor, a friendly atmosphere and one-of-a-kind vegan Russian cuisine.

Located at 2309 18th St. NW on Adams Morgan’s liveliest street, sPACYcLOUd is serving up traditional Russian dishes with a vegan twist. The two-story restaurant, bar and shop is known for its laid back and hipster atmosphere crafted by owner Tatiana Kolina, and its cocktails, beer and food.

Walking into the downstairs lounge and bar area is like stepping into another world where art, skateboarding and food all intersect. The walls are adorned with colorful abstract pieces of African art, often depicting women and elephants, for their strength. The lounge is furnished with velvet couches and chairs ranging in colors from cream to purple to dusty orange and vibrant painted pink walls, a sharp contrast to the dark, earthy and underground feel of the bar and upstairs area.

The upstairs includes traditional restaurant seating, while the downstairs lounge is a spacious room filled with couches and chairs, perfect for enjoying dinner with a large group of friends. Russian rap and rock plays aloud with collections of skate, surf and snow boards proudly displayed on the walls, contributing to the space’s stylish atmosphere.

The restaurant is outfitted with two bars – one on each story. The downstairs bar serves specialty cocktails while Eastern European beers and Georgian wines can be found at the upstairs bar, which is adorned with decorated skateboards and sPACYcLOUd merchandise available for purchase.

While you enjoy your food or drink, you will no doubt meet Kolina, the owner, lovingly referred to by all of the staff as Tati. A first generation Russian immigrant, Kolina created sPACYcLOUd with three core values in mind – empowerment, sustainability and wellness.

While I was there, she made an effort to get to know myself and other guests, frequently checking in on the food and experience, and even taking photos for the sPACYcLOUd Instagram page. Kolina is also active in the D.C. skate community, often hosting skating clinics for young girls on the street outside the shop.

The shop’s atmosphere and back story captivate customers, but the food can definitely not be written off. The small menu presents a well-crafted display of Eastern European cuisine.

Start off with the peasant potatoes ($12), crispy fried potato cubes served with a rotating side and creamy, spicy, house made sauce. For a main dish, you can’t go wrong with the fish and chips ($22), mushroom and potato stew ($16), stuffed cabbage ($22), Berlin-style veggie wurst ($11) or the Beyond meat burger ($15).

I opted for the pelmeni ($18), traditional Russian dumplings with a rotating filling wrapped in dough. The filling of the day was vegan chicken, which made for a flavor burst as the veggie meat escaped from the soft dough wrapping. The chewy filling was a combination of the “chicken,” spices and broth. The dumplings were served with a generous dollop of vegan sour cream garnished with dill adding a refreshing contrast to the dish with its cool temperature and light taste.

The dumplings themselves were small balls of dough, stuffed with the vegan chicken filling, boiled and then served in a soup-like bowl perfect for catching the soupy juice that explodes from the dumplings the minute you bite into them. These homecooked and traditional bite-sized dumplings evoked feelings of warmth and comfort, each one melting in your mouth with each bite.

The dumplings taste so delectable it’s easy to forget that they are also vegan. As a vegetarian, I am used to trying plant-based takes on traditional meat dishes and these dumplings certainly passed the test.

Stop by sPACYcLOUd the next time you’re in Adams Morgan for distinct Russian cuisine, great conversation and a funky atmosphere.

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