A London restaurant has put Chicken Kiev back on its menu, renaming the 1970s-era staple Chicken Kyiv and making a donation with each order to help Ukrainian refugees. Il Portico restaurant, an Italian family restaurant in west London that opened in the 1960s, has revived the traditional breadcrumb-coated, butter-filled dish, which was once a trusted favourite of British dining. “What people really want right now is comfort,” the restaurant’s owner James Chiavarini told AFP, adding that staff decided to bring it back — but using the Ukrainian spelling. “Kiev” reflects the way the city’s name is pronounced in Russian, so Ukraine prefers “Kyiv”.
“I thought: why don’t we just put a £5 ($6.6) donation for every one sold to the Red Cross. And it’s a nice way… for all of our customers to get involved in the cause,” said Chiavarini.
British companies and ordinary members of the public have responded with numerous charitable drives to help Ukrainians fleeing Moscow’s invasion.
Reflecting the national mood, British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has also announced that it is renaming its version of the dish.
The origins of the chicken dish are contested, with Russia claiming to have had a hand in it, along with the French.
In Britain, it was the first chilled ready meal sold by Marks & Spencer in the late 1970s.
“It’s one of those staple dishes that everyone used to joke about — you know, think about those old 70s foods: the dessert trolleys, the Black Forest gateau, the Chicken Kievs,” said Chiavarini.
The restaurateur added that the renaming was not intended to be “anti-Russian” — conscious that the restaurant is located close to both Russian and Ukrainian embassies.
“This is here specifically just to raise money for the Red Cross, to help out people in Ukraine, especially refugees,” he said.
One of the diners tucking into Chicken Kyiv, Anglican priest Graham Morgan, said he enjoys the dish in any case, and “on this occasion it is, in a very small way, helping the people of Ukraine”.