Taras Bulba is on West Broadway right by the heart of SoHo. I never noticed this restaurant before, but the entryway is very inviting and intriguing. The restaurant is Ukrainian with plenty of old-school Eastern European decor, and waitstaff dressed in traditional outfits. There is live music in the evening around 8 PM. There is some outdoor seating, and plenty of decent space towards the back of the restaurant. The decor is deeply intriguing — with sickles and other farming tools hanging from the ceiling.
The waitstaff largely speaks both Russian and English, and the menu is available in both Russian and English. However, it definitely helps to have a Russian background to understand the types of dishes presented on the menu. Nonetheless, the translation from Russian to English and the respective descriptions for each dish appeared to be well executed enough to appeal to even the most foreign to Russian cuisine.
I usually do have much trouble finding appealing dishes on Russian menus. I never really liked Russian food very much. However, I think I have found my select number of dishes that I could enjoy reliably. At first glance on the menu, I would opt for the deruny, borscht soup, wheat bliny, pelmeni, vareniki, and probably most of the entrees, so my palate has definitely expanded to accommodate more Eastern European cuisine.
We decided to share the pelmeni and pickled vegetables to start. Pelmeni are essentially dumplings with meat inside. They are tasty, and the right way to eat them is with a good dollop of sour cream. I was pleased with the presentation and taste, and I thought it was a very solid appetizer that I would get again. We also shared pickled vegetables, but I’m not really fond of pickled vegetables (aside from a regular pickle), so I can’t critique that particularly accurately. Nonetheless, the presentation was quite nice, and I appreciate their dishware.
I decided to order the Beef Stroganoff, which is probably the dish I recommend most to people who truly have no idea what to order. It is essentially a beef stew over some mashed potatoes, but I am usually very pleased with the dish. This was no exception. The flavors were all there, and the portion size was adequate for me given the fact that the dish is rather filling. The beef could have admittedly been slightly more tender, but that would be my only true critique. My family ordered the borscht, Chicken A La Kiev, and the Porterhouse Pork Chop, which all looked great and were also well presented.
Overall, I had a very positive impression of the restaurant with its decor, food presentation, food quality and taste, and approachability. It is a very relaxed and genuine restaurant. Additionally, they have a variety of traditional hats and outfits for customers to put on and take pictures in. I will likely return again in the future and order similar dishes.