Tatiana’s namesake owner, Tatiana Varzar, isn’t exactly Russian either. She’s from Odessa, in Ukraine, and she’s Jewish, which, in the USSR, was an entirely separate category altogether. But in America, our community of Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union, from Ukraine, from Belarus, from Latvia, just shorthands ourselves to ‘Russians’ and no one has an existential crisis about it.
For the record, Tatiana has a lot of stellar, real, Russian dishes. Pickled herring, caviar, borscht, black bread and a lot of vodka, you can have a serious Russian meal there. But Tatiana has managed to perfect dishes from other cultures too. What’s wrong with that?
Tatiana, most importantly, is completely authentic. This is what Russian cuisine is. It borrows from other cuisines and doesn’t look back. Throughout my childhood, Russian restaurants in America really just meant French restaurants with a side of vareniki. As more Soviet immigrants arrived in the Big Apple, their zest for assimilation meant that Russian restaurants adapted all kinds of food to fit the Russian standard. They took community favorites and added them to menus all over Brooklyn. It works remarkably well.