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Julia Dubovichka of Tatiana Explains ‘Eggplant Caviar’

Tatiana waitress

Photo: Melissa Hom

It’s Brooklyn restaurant week, and, as we’ve pointed out, there are a host of options. Perhaps the most distinctive one — and perhaps the one that involves the longest commute — is Tatiana, the Brighton Beach institution that doubles as a boardwalk restaurant and a lavish nightclub where the performances are every bit as mind-blowing as the ones you’ll find at the Box, even if they’re lighter on the S&M. We asked a waitress who’s been there seven years, Julia Dubovichka, to tell us which balcony (the one with the waterfall or the one with the fish in the floor?) is most suitable for our birthday celebration.

So what’s in store for Tatiana during its tenth year?
We have an absolutely new stage. It looks amazing — we have a new show starting April 30. Just this February we opened a new room. It’s supposed to be a lounge, and we’re going to have some performances there — different styles of Russian music and literature.

How would you describe the show to someone who hasn’t seen it? What’s the favorite one you’ve seen?
It’s really colorful, funny, and interesting. People can understand it without any words. It’s a really international show. We have Russian guys, an Italian guy, some from the Soviet Union, Georgia, Uzbekistan. We had one old-fashioned show that mixed music, costume, and dances from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was very historical.

What’s on the menu for Dine In week?
We have a choice of four salads: the Olivia salad with potato, boiled vegetables, meat, chicken; the famous Tatiana salad; eggplant caviar; and Russian salad. Then we have Ukrainian borscht, mushroom soup, or Georgian soup. For the main course, we have lamb or pork chop, chicken cutlet Kiev, and a filet of catfish or salmon. And we have dessert.

What’s the Tatiana salad?
It’s a mix of white radish, meat, seasonings, and a very special homemade sauce.

And eggplant caviar?
It’s raw eggplant that we put in the oven, then peel and chop. It’s a kind of vegetable spread. It’s a Ukrainian dish.

Do the local Russians or Ukrainian people prefer certain dishes?
In our menu, you can find different dishes from different countries. Each of them is a unique recipe. Russian guys often order something really Italian or American, if you can call it that.

What’s the difference between Tatiana and the Tatiana Café next door?
It’s a little bit more casual. They have maybe the same menu (not as huge as we have). We have a huge band that performs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They have live music, too, but not with such an extended band. They have one thing we don’t: Every Sunday, they have an amazing prix fixe brunch with a lot of dishes.

How strict are you about the indoor dress code (no sneakers or jeans)?
It depends on how it looks. If it’s dirty and not acceptable, we will ask this person to come next time. We’ll try to keep our customers in a good mood. We’ll try to make some compromise.

What’s the best seat in the house?
If you would like to see our performance and the most important thing is to talk to your friends and you’d like to have some kind of privacy, I would advise to make the party in our VIP room or in our new one. If you would like to have a little bit more fun and your guests prefer to dance or sing and not talk so much, I think it would be in our main hall. Very often a party of eight or ten prefers to sit in one of our three balconies. In the Fish Balcony and Waterfall Balconies, we have fish on the floor and a waterfall on the walls.

People are often torn between the banquet menu and ordering à la carte. What would you suggest?
If they come on Friday and they would like to order our prix fixe, it would be really inexpensive. They would have a banquet for $55 per person. It sounds expensive, but if we’re talking about a banquet for five people, you get thirteen dishes of just salads and cold appetizers, five dishes of hot appetizers, two dishes in the main course, and three in dessert. And for this price you can get one bottle of vodka or wine. And each plate on the table would be really huge. Sometimes it’s cheaper to eat in our restaurant than in McDonald’s or Wendy’s. Maybe it sounds funny, but it’s true.

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