Ostannya Barykada (Last Barricade in English) is widely known among locals in Kyiv (Kiev, Ukraine) but its presence is far from advertised. Every year thousands of visitors frequent the city’s Independence Square, though very few of them know about the secret restaurant that lies beneath the concrete.
For one who doesn’t know, the only hint that you might get of the nationalistic eatery underground is through the glass panels next to St. Micheal’s archway. Even if you are fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the waiters underneath you, it will take much more than luck to fathom out the clues in order to gain entry.
For those who have had their curiosity piqued, read on to discover how to gain admission into Kyiv’s most mysterious bar and restaurant.
What should I bring to the Last Barricade?
- A smartphone
- The ability to read words in another language (or at least have a good go)
- An empty stomach
- A sense of adventure!
How do I get to Ostannya Barykada?
Firstly, you must make your way into the Globus shopping mall which can be found under a glass igloo in Independence Square. Once you’re in, head into the lift and press the button marked ‘OB’. This will take you down to a rather small but charming gift shop. All items in this gift shop are made in Ukraine using materials produced in the country, just in case you were wondering…
You will notice that there is a battered sticker in the lift featuring a QR code, it is a little scratchy but still worked during my visit. If this code appears too badly worn, never fear. There is another larger QR code at the back of the gift shop. Once you scan this code using your smartphone, two words will pop up on the screen. This is the password that you will need to give the person sitting behind the desk.
Do not worry if your Ukranian isn’t great, (mine is pretty shoddy too) just be prepared to give it a go and refine your speaking until you satisfy the gatekeeper. By the way, merely showing the password is not enough, you have to say it out loud. (When you consider that this is all you have to do in order to be let in on the secret, it doesn’t seem like such a big ask.)
Assuming you pass the test, you will be shown through a secret door at the side of the gift shop. It is here you that you enter the initial foyer of the Last Barricade restaurant. This is where the toilets and cloakroom are located. After establishing the number in your party, you will be shown into the main restaurant via another hidden door covered in hands. This is to signify the years that Ukraine spent under Russian rule.
I have read that in order to guarantee a table at Ostannya Barykada you should book in advance but Tim and I had no problem walking in and being seated straight away. Personally, I think that booking a table takes some of the magic out of finding the place so if you are concerned I would recommend you visit at a less popular time of the day.
What is the Last Barricade Password?
As a knower of the answer, I could reveal the password here and now. To be honest, I think that takes out the fun. I’ll give you a clue though. The password comes from Ukrainian writer Taras Shevchenko’s wise words, ‘Keep on fighting and you will fight anything’.
Why is the OB restaurant in Kyiv secret?
As I’ve already noted, the literal translation of Ostannya Barykada in English is the ‘Last Barricade’. That knowledge combined with the link to Shevchenko, one of Ukraine’s most valued creatives and political figures, shows that this is a place with a motive.
The restaurant claims to be born out of the three most famous Ukrainian revolutions, the Student Revolution (1990), the Orange Revolution (2004) and the Revolution of Dignity (2014). Somewhat surprisingly and disturbingly, all these revolutions took place within living memory. This is a country with a very traumatic history.
Ostannya Barykada is in no way shy about its roots. It serves only Ukrainian food and drink and runs on an eco-friendly approach. The restaurant aims to attract creatives, free thinkers and those looking to discuss long term strategies regarding country policy. Owing to the ongoing hostility between Russia and Ukraine, no Russian is spoken by staff inside the restaurant.
What is Ostannya Barykada like inside?
Once you enter through the hidden door with the hands, you will see the vast restaurant sprawled out in front of you. There are two bars and another couple of rooms, all documenting periods from Ukraine’s fractured history.
The Last Barricade is marketed as a place for open-minded individuals who want to preserve and protect their values, take responsibility and change their country.
All artefacts displayed within the restaurant are authentic so as well as serving food, the whole place doubles up as a museum. You can learn more about the artefacts on display by checking out the Last Barricade menu.
Events take place at the restaurant almost every evening and include live music, book presentations and even, political discussions. Ostannya Barykada has also launched its own radio station where these discussions are broadcast. Radio OB is centred around cultural aspects of modern Ukraine including literature and gastronomy. If you are interested, you can download their podcasts here, although naturally, everything is in Ukrainian.
What is the food at the Last Barricade like?
When a restaurant has a novelty factor as Ostannya Barykada does, it can be easy for the management to rely on this to get customers through the door. This was a concern of mine prior to visiting but I had nothing to worry about. The food was spectacular and the prices were reasonable.
For a budget traveller, a trip to Kyiv’s secret restaurant will be more upmarket than what you are used to but the prices are still fair, with a main meal setting you back just £8/$10. Drinks from the bar are also reasonably priced with a whole range of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. I’d definitely recommend grabbing something from the OB cocktail menu, the choices are endless.
Sadly, we couldn’t eat everything we wanted from the menu as there was just not enough time or stomach space. However, the dishes we did sample were exceptional. From our visit, I can personally recommend the dumplings with mushrooms and rabbit tongues (sounds gross, tastes amazing), the baked cheese which comes in a bread bowl, potatoes fried with mushrooms and the cheese set which included some of the most divine cheeses I have ever tasted. Let’s face it, you’re not going to go too wrong when a whole page of the menu is dedicated to cheese! I’ll be honest, I could’ve stayed forever…
Have you ever visited a secret restaurant?
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