The stage at Siberia (2227 St. Claude Ave., 265-8855) is a haven for all sorts of punk and metal bands that don't fit the most conventional notions of New Orleans music. So maybe it's appropriate that you won't find a remoulade or roux anywhere on the new menu of its kitchen.
Siberia recently introduced Eastern European eats like pierogi, kielbasa, blini and beet salad. The new kitchen operation at the hard-rocking St. Roch venue is called Kukhnya and Matt Ribachonek calls his cooking "Slavic soul food."
"My grandma would be very proud," he says with a laugh.
Ribachonek is a veteran of many local restaurant kitchens, including Fiorella's (1136 Decatur St., 553-2155) when it was the launching pad for the New Orleans Bingo! Show. More recently, he was doing pop-ups, street food and catering under the moniker Streats McGee.
Those other gigs are on hold as he develops Kukhnya, which serves from 5 p.m. to midnight every night except Tuesday. In addition to the Slavic staples mentioned above, the menu includes a "Russki" burger with Russian dressing, a vegetarian beet burger with goat cheese, egg noodles and lots of pickled vegetables and the "Polboy," a po-boy made with Polish sausage, fried onions and kapusta — spicy cabbage similar to sauerkraut.
Many of the recipes come from his family's traditions, but Ribachonek has modified them.
"Lots of Polish and Ukrainian food is basically pretty bland," he says. "But working at restaurants for as long as I have I learned to add garlic and herbs and things like that."
He's working on a brunch menu to serve on Sundays, though this will not be your typical jazz brunch. Called the "King James Whiskey Brunch," it features R&B rocker King James on stage and it starts at 5:30 p.m.