“This reminds me of my boyhood in Minsk,” says the portly gentleman with hair sprouting from his collar, as we sit down to dinner at Café Tatiana, one of Brighton Beach’s iconic restaurants. There are two Tatianas on the boardwalk, each run by a partner, and similar in the way that the grand old French restaurants of sixties-era Manhattan were (my Tatiana is more restaurant; the other more nightclub). Our little banquette is fringed with tasseled curtains. The giant menu is a baroque, almost anthropological document, a mishmash of old-world favorites (herring, pickled cabbage, borscht) and faded gourmet conceits from the New World (chicken tenders, shrimp scampi, foie gras for $35). I like the “green” borscht, from Ukraine, the crocks of slippery little veal- and pork-filled pelmeni dumplings, and the mountains of fried potatoes sprinkled with garlic and dill. The beef Stroganoff is stolidly rich, and everyone enjoys the “Moscow sturgeon,” which is prepared like grilled salmon, then covered in an un-Russian coconut-milk sauce. Cherry-filled pirogen taste like they’ve been poured with Maraschino syrup, but who cares? The room is filled with merry, pink-cheeked gentlemen sporting Yeltsin haircuts and diminutive ladies with beehive hairdos. There’s plenty of vodka on the table. You’re in old Russia now, and who ever went there for the food?