Chef Kwame Onwuachi’s new Afro-Caribbean restaurant, Tatiana, opened yesterday at Lincoln Center. The Bronx native and Top Chef star, who has previously opened and closed two fine dining establishments in Washington D.C., drew inspiration for the restaurant from his own roots in Nigeria, Jamaica, Trinidad, New Orleans, and his upbringing in the five boroughs of New York City.
Onwuachi told Eater that he named the restaurant after his sister Tatiana because she helped raise him and he wanted to pay homage to her influence in his life. “We spent a lot of meals together as kids. I wanted to draw from that nostalgia of things I used to beg her for, things we used to eat together in the Bronx,” he said.
The Afro-Caribbean menu at Tatiana is filtered through a New York lens, with dishes like bodega-style chopped cheese buns made with beef, Taleggio cheese and truffles, Egusi soup dumplings and braised oxtails.
The chef describes his inspiration for the dishes, saying that he grew up eating eskovitch fish in the Bronx and wanted to do an escovitch in crudo style.
The restaurant’s kampachi, avocado, with caramelized caramel syrup, in place of the carrots that are normally in it, spiced pickles, and scotch bonnet peppers is also inspired by Onwuachi’s childhood. The last restaurant he did, he says he had curry goat with roti; this one, he wanted to do it in a patty so you could eat it all in one bite, made with a mango chutney and a green seasoning aioli. Certain places do curry goat inside patties, he describes, but it’s not super common. Tatiana’s menu also offers a warm honey bun with a scoop of powdered doughnut ice cream, which in his words, ” I’m very happy about. It’s like a trip to the bodega.”
Onwuachi wants Tatiana to be the kind of place where “people just feel comfortable, man,” he says.
Tatiana is open Tuesday to Wednesday, from 5 to 9 p.m., and Thursday to Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. The entrance to the restaurant is located on the south side of David Geffen Hall at 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, at West 65th Street.