The big review: Tatiana ***½

 

You like the dancing girls? You like the borsch? You like the Tatiana!

Tatiana
Tatiana Varzar presents Stuffed Quails in a Nest beside holiday decorations at her eponymous restaurant, Tatiana, in Hallendale. Photo:John VanBeekum.
 

By Rochelle Koff

Tatiana Restaurant & Cabaret Show is all about Russian mystique and majesty melded with a smorgasbord of old country cooking -- homey dishes like borscht and "blabber mouth'' (beef tongue salad), sardines and sturgeon, caviar and cold, smoked meats, washed down with lots of Stoli.

Behind the razzle dazzle is Tatiana Varzar, an Odessa native, who transformed this 10,500-square-foot strip mall space into a lavish, European-style destination. Elegant Fabergé eggs are displayed in a case near the entrance. Inside are three levels of seating for 600 with romantic balconies, Murano glass fixtures, gold drapes and 26-foot ceilings, plus high-tech audio-visual effects. A new 40-minute cabaret show with Cirque-style acrobatics debuts this week. On our recent visit, sexy Las Vegas/Moulin Rouge-style dancers from Moscow performed in elaborate costumes, complete with a provocative fire-eating number. There's live music and dancing, too.

The menu, with about 300 items, including Continental cuisine, is written in both English and Russian, paired with an extensive international wine list. Servers are cordial, but not chatty (English is limited), so don't expect a lot of explanation. Prix fixe dinner -- generic choices like Caesar salad, escargot, steak, chicken and salmon -- and show packages are $55-$100 over the weekend. Keep in mind that includes a four- or five-course dinner plus entertainment -- and you have the table all night. The show is included even if you order à la carte, which is our preference. Pretty much everything is done in-house, from pickling to pastry crusts to the superb Norwegian lox.

You could easily feast on starters alone. Most of us are familiar with cold beet borscht, but we loved their hot spinach version with scallions, dill, boiled eggs and sour cream. There's sturgeon caviar ($240 for two ounces) but also lots of family fare from the homeland -- khachapuri (cheese pies), pelmini (meat dumplings) and our pick, velvety vareniki -- like half-moon raviolis filled with potatoes, cheese or sour cherries. Another simple but wonderful dish: hash browns and fried onions, elevated by delicate, nutty, chanterelle mushrooms.

There are entrees of nearly every category (most include potatoes and/or a vegetable). Seafood choices include branzini, tilapia, trout, salmon, smoked eel and roasted sea bass that's typically terrific -- well-seasoned and juicy. Traditional beef stroganoff brings strips of tenderloin with mushrooms and sour cream, garnished with Tatiana's own dill pickles. Lamb chops are peppery and tender, with snappy accompaniments of marinated cabbage, smoky grilled pepperoncini and tomatoes and sliced pita points.

I can guarantee you'll be stuffed, but it's worth sharing a dessert like crepes with strawberry jam and ice cream or apple strudel, its sweetness offset by sour green apples and sour cherries. Also a treat: spinning your sweetie on the dance floor till the early morning hours. The finale: From Russia, with love.

Tatiana Restaurant & Cabaret, 1710 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Hallandale Beach; 954-454-1222. Noon-1 a.m. Tues-Thurs, 11 a.m.-5 a.m. Fri-Sun. Three-course lunch $14.95 Tues-Sat, brunch $34.95 Sunday, four-course dinner-show $70 Friday, $100 Sat, $55 Sun. A la carte salads $9.95-$25.95 (with black caviar), appetizers $5.95-$37.95, entrees $16.95-$36.95, sides $5-$6, desserts $9.95-$13.95, kids' chicken nuggets $7.95

FYI: Reservations strongly recommended. Full bar. Live music nightly; show 10 p.m. Fri-Sat, 8 p.m. Sun. MC, VS.

Published: 12/08

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