A note about my restaurant reviews: New York City counts many Eastern European restaurants scattered across the five boroughs, most of them ignored by restaurant critics and diners alike. I intend to visit as many as I can and report!
Taras Bulba is a Ukrainian restaurant chain founded in 1999, with many branches in Moscow and Kiev. The SoHo outpost, however, opened much more recently (this W Broadway space was still occupied by Via dei Mille not so long ago). I actually remember eating in one of the Moscow joints on my way to or back from some Caucasian Adventure or other. Everything looked more or less the same, from the decor to the menu, with the added benefit that in Moscow they’re open 24/7 — can you remind me again which one’s supposed to be the city that never sleeps?
Time for our minute of culture. Taras Bulba, though it may sound like an insult in French, is really a novella by Nikolai Gogol, wherein a family of Zaporozhian Cossacks does Cossack things, including lots of warmongering. It was loosely adapted for film in 1962, with Yul Brynner in the title role. (Brynner was born in Vladivostok, incidentally). And korchma, the word printed on the awning and atop the menu, is not a schizophrenic owner’s second name for the restaurant; a “korchma” simply used to be a kind of tavern in Ukraine.