THE BITE: Comrades! Today we admire Soviet kitsch in a Soviet kitchen: Back to USSR, at 2817 Coney Island Avenue off of Avenue Z.
Here you’ll find an oversized bronze monument of Lenin in the main dining room, and walls emblazoned with waving hammer-and-sickle flags in the side room. There’s 70s-style rotary phones hanging off the walls, and all kinds of memorabilia of the Soviet era.
The menu features 10 flavors of homemade infused vodkas and an extensive list of cleverly named Russian dishes printed in both English and Russian. I know, I’m supposed to be focusing on the food, but you can’t talk about this place and not mention the ambiance.
And, actually, after chuckling a little every time I passed, I was so very curious if it was a mistake that the definite article “the” was left out of the restaurant name. Is there a sense of humor about the good old USSR here?
Curiosity got the best of me. I gathered some friends and made the trip.
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Zair Cafe, a new restaurant serving “Russian & Eastern food,” is set to open soon at 2223 Avenue X, the corner of East 23rd Street.
The new restaurant replaces an Eastern European luncheonette and food mart. We’re not sure when it closed down, or if it’s the same ownership.
A sign in the window says it will open soon and will also have catering options. We wish the new cafe good luck.
Source: Google Maps
The owner of the popular Brighton Beach-based Tatiana’s Restaurant (3152 Brighton 6th Street) lost a tax battle due to a ruling that will cost her hundreds of thousands of dollars. Forbes is reporting that the New York Division of Tax Appeals has denied Tatiana Varzar’s claim that she is a Florida resident, and owed back taxes for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006.
In those years, Varzar claimed to be living in Pompano Beach, Florida. By doing so, she saved herself $231,422, money she’ll now have to pay back plus penalties and interest. Forbes went through the ruling and showed why Varzar failed to make her case that she was a Florida resident in the mid 2000s, and used it to illustrate New York State’s strong tax law. Dual residents beware.
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The owners of Chateau De Alik (1223 Avenue U) are getting fishy with a new project: Chateau Lagoon, a new seafood restaurant and market heading to Coney Island Avenue.
But don’t think for a second it’s going to be much like their current French-infused location.
“It’s a different type of restaurant. It’s a different theme,” said Joseph Shafie, one of the partners. “There’s going to be seafood, slash fish market, slash this, slash that. Everything has to do with seafood only.”
In addition to a seafood restaurant and fish market, there’ll be a large sushi bar. The market will also sell fish smoked in-house.
How will they fit it all? Well, they’re taking the huge space at 2570 Coney Island Avenue formerly occupied by R & S Strauss Discount Auto that closed when the national chain went bankrupt in June. The space is 5,000 square feet, and the restaurant owners signed a 10-year lease, according to Arsen Atbashyan, the CEO of Commercial Acquisitions Realty Services, who brokered the deal.
“We started marketing it for retail use and, considering it was an auto part store, we offered it to Pep Boys. But they passed on it because it was too small and no parking,” Atbashyan said. “And then we had this restaurant looking for space on Coney Island Avenue and it just seemed like a perfect match.”
Pep Boys’ loss is our gain – but we’ll have to wait. Chateau Lagoon won’t be open until late spring at the earliest, Shafie said.
With a headline like that, I’m sure plenty of Sheepshead Bay old-timers are groaning, “Duu-uh! Old news.”
But we’re not talking about the influx of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. We’re talking about a new bar and restaurant at 2817 Coney Island Avenue called USSR. Or, perhaps, Back to USSR, depending on how you read the sign:
I’ve got to admit, on first seeing this I said to myself, “Man, that’s foolish. Way to tell non-Russians they’re not welcome.”
But after getting a closer look at the sign, and seeing they replaced the hammer and sickle with chicken Kiev and kielbasa, designed the communist red star using caviar, and wrapped the whole thing in bread and sturgeon, and underscored it with a blini – well, these guys have a sense of humor, and I look forward to checking it out.
Welcome to the neighborhood, USSR!