Any love for serbian food here?

Serbian food’s not usually on my radar; I’ve had it maybe 3 or 4 times before in my life, all at restaurants in Milwaukee, but none in the last 2 decades or so. As such, it was with a spirit of adventurousness that my wife and I, along with our youngest daugher, journeyed to Old Town Serbian, in aforesaid city. Unfortunately, my son-in-law had to work, but was hoping for leftovers.

The restaurant has been there for over 45 years, and definitely has the feel of a semi-formal family joint in an ethnic neighborhood, though ethnicities have shifted recently. The menu offerings were pretty tempting, and included suckling pig, lamb, duck, goose shanks, chicken or calf liver, along with the more traditional goulashes and veal dishes.

We started out with bread and two spreads, a very nice serbian cheese flavorful but spreadable, and avjar, an eggplant and peppers tapenade, also quite piquant. We demolished it handily.

That was followed by an olive and cheese appetizer platter, some hot baked feta coated with an exquisite pepper tapenade, and chevapchichi sausages, sizzling hot and served with raw peppers and onions. Again, demolished.

I decided on a beef and cheese burek for my main course; a pie made of phyllo dough and stuffed with seasoned meat. The thing was huuuuge, flakey, and oh so warm from the oven, and most amazingly delicious. Also too large to eat the whole thing. SIL got half of it.

My daughter got the grape leaves Sarma, stuffed with ground beef, sausage, bacon, pork, smoked pork, and rice. Being the carnivore she is, it all vanished.

The Mrs. opted for the seafood special of the evening, cod in some sort of paprika sauce. While the fish was good, she found the sauce too sweet; having sampled it myself, I concur. A pity. Fortunately she enjoyed a chunk of my burek.

Dessert was palacinka, a rather thick crepe stuffed with nutella, hot from the griddle and topped with whipped cream; a restaurant tradition. Also a dish advertised as a strawberry schaum torte, but it was nothing like any schaum torte I’d had before. It was more similar to strawberry shortcake. Quite tasty on its own, but a bit of a disappointment due to its lack of schauminess.

I’d like to go back to sample their goose, their veal, their versions of musaka and paprikash. Or maybe to the Three Brothers, the other Serbian joint in town.

Life’s too short for boring food.

I quite enjoy food from the former Yugoslavia. I’ve meant to try Old Town Serbian whenever I go to Milwaukee, but somehow I always end up at Zaffiro’s for pizza. We have a couple Serbian places here in Chicago, and both are good, but my favorite is Caffe Sarajevo in Phoenix, if you accept food in the general area. The menus are pretty similar. I like my chevapi made with lamb, and the Bosnian places tend to do so, while the others rare less likely to. And they have the best homemade lepinja bread to go with it. I have yet to find a place here in the us that makes it anywhere near as well.

I’m not sure how close Serbian and Bosnian food is, but FWIW, a lot of Bosnians settled in St. Louis in the late 90s. There are a number of Bosnian restaurants here. They didn’t seem too vegetarian friendly, so I haven’t really tried them. But if you ever find yourself in the area, you should swing by Little Bosnia.

It’s funny, my father’s side of the family is 100% Serbian ( turn of the 20th century immigrants from Habsburg Croatia on both his parent’s sides ) and my grandparents were fully bilingual. But the food I most associate with them from childhood visits is stuff like macaroni and cheese and chicken noodle soup ;). Now granted this was GOOD chicken noodle soup - noodles made from scratch and freshly slaughtered chickens from the backyard. Nonetheless, aside from stuff like makovnjača ( and its prune and walnut variants - wonderful ) and doughy versions of homemade bread ( do not like ), my western PA Serb relatives really didn’t do “ethnic” cuisine. Fresh and delicious - but not really ethnic.

One of these days I’ll have to dig up a Serbian restaurant and give it a try.

Oh, the white cheese was kajmak, by the way.

You have just made me want to visit Milwaukee. I love Serbian food, but can only get it when I talk an auntie into cooking some for me.

I’ve never had Serbian food, but I’d certainly be willing to try it. I never met a cuisine I didn’t like.

I have an Armenian cookbook but I haven’t really studied it yet.

I’ve never had Serbian food, but from the OP it looks a lot like Bulgarian food, which I have all the time.

It sounds like a blend of Polish/Slavic and Greek cuisine.

That’s exactly what I was thinking, jz78817, though also apparently with a little Hungarian. My grandmother had lots of Slavic friends, and adopted many of their recipes, but I’ve never had Serbian cooking.

This sounds like a great place for a Milwaukee Dopefest…just sayin’…

Since Armenia is about 1800 miles from Serbia, I’m not sure how similar the cuisines would be.

My great-grandparents actually came to the US from a town that’s now in Croatia, but they were Danube-Swabians, or ethnic germans who moved there when it was part of the Austro-hungarian empire. They spoke german at home and serbo-croatian also. But according to my grandfather, the home cooking was pretty germanic.

And yes, Old Town’s cuisine was somewhat reminiscent of greek food I’d had, what with the olives and feta-like cheese, the grape leaves and the phyllo dough. But the sausages and peppers and paprika and duck and goose made me think of eastern europe.

Next I think I’ll hit Polonez, the polish restaurant in town. They offer a wide range of pierogies, plus duck’s blood soup!

That’s a pretty fair approximation. I’d say Central European meets Turkish/Greek cuisine. It’s all a bit of a continuum. Chevapi/chevapchichi (čevapi/čevapčići) are little grilled skinless sausages that are similar to something like Romanian mititei/mici, and the etymologic derivation comes from the word “kebab.” (If you look, you can see how similar čevap/kebab is). My assumption is these are all variants on Turkish kofta. That’s about as far north as I remember seeing these in that part of the world and claimed as part of the home cuisine. I’ve seen them in Hungary, but always advertised as Balkan food, not anything indigenous. (Well, there are parts of Serbia that were ethnically Hungarian, so perhaps there is some indigenous element, but the Hungarian restaurants in Budapest did not serve chevapi–we had to go to the Serbian restaurants to get that.)

Lepinje/somun (the bread I was talking about) is related to pita, from what I can tell. It’s a type of yeast-raised flatbread, but the types I’m used to are a bit yeastier and puffier/more bread-like than what I’ve seen from farther south/Turkey. Here’s a picture of what I’m talking about, but they vary a good bit in the region.

It’s definitely a meat-heavy cuisine, with some fish in there, too. Ajvar is one of my favorite spreads, and it’s a mix of roasted eggplant and red peppers, often with garlic. For me, no meal of cevapcici is complete without raw diced onion and ajvar, also some prefer it with kajmak, the cheese/sour cream/dairy kind of spread mentioned in the OP.

If you want to check it out in the Chicago area, there’s Zupa on 7919 Ogden in Lyons and Dunav at 8801 Ogden. Looks like there’s a third one, Skadarliya, at 9237 Ogden, as well, but I haven’t been to that one. The other two were very Serbian. Felt like stepping into a different country in those restaurants. I also remember, at least 20 years ago, there being a few places on the north or northwest side of Chicago, but I’m blanking on which ones I’ve been to.

Of course I love Serbian food! My mom’s side is Serb, so I grew up eating that way. It’s not the most exciting of cuisine…more stick-to-your-ribs stuff, but I love it all the same and incorporate bits when I can. You all listed the most iconic dishes above, but I’ll add whole spit-roasted lamb and pork besides.

Also, there are about a million variants on ajvar/ljutenica (the latter relish having more eggplant/squash). I have a feeling that’s how Serbs got through the winter without scurvy, alongside pickled cabbage, either in cabbage rolls (sarma) or sauerkraut. Yes, Bosnian cuisine is very similar (though less pork for obvious reasons), and I loved going to Bosnian cafes when I lived near STL. Lepinje bread is to die for.

Serbs also like feta, mushrooms, egg noodles, and other things like Greek cuisine, though being more or less landlocked there isn’t much of a fish culture. You want Croatian for that. There is a heavy Austrian influence in Serbian cuisine (also for obvious reasons), so you would see some goulasch, schnitzelin, strudels and palachinke (mentioned above, crepes filled with cheese and/or fruit). Also, nice Serbian desserts tend to be like Victorian (?) era Viennese: lots of tortes…multilayer cakes with nut and jam layers between. Also baklava is a favorite, usually done with walnuts (which I detest, so I use almonds :D). Serbs love walnuts for some reason.

Where I grew up, though, in NW Indiana, there was a lot of admixture between Greek, Polish, Russian, and other Slavic cuisine, so you might see at a big potluck, wedding, or festival: spanikopita (spinach-feta burek/strudel)–we called it gibanica, slanina and spongy pita, roast lamb, cevapi sausage served like gyros, savory baked beans, beef and rice stuffed cabbage, borscht, green beans cooked to death with ham hocks or bacon, maybe even a variant on moussaka or pastitsio. All washed down with “healthy” amounts of slivovica or homemade wine.

You might enjoy this dude on youtube:

Well, not sea fish, but definitely river fish (like in riblja čorba, fish soup), trout, carp, pike perch/saunder, that sort of thing. Not the first thing you think of with Serbian cuisine, but it’s definitely there (just like in Hungarian cuisine, another land-locked country.)

I haven’t tried Serbian food and Milwaukee is relatively close to me can you inbox me the details so I can try to convince my less adventurous husband that we need to go! Thanks in advance.

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Goes your husband like grilled meat? If so, he’ll like Serbian cuisine.

Ah, maybe so. I guess I only know Serbian-American cuisine, and perhaps that further watered down by my exact location (South of Lake Michigan). My Deda and Baba did make some fish from local sources, but that usually amounted to fried smelt (for breakfast, no less!) or fried perch with onions and potatoes, and that was about it. :slight_smile:

I married a half-Sicilian from New Orleans, so I make a lot more ethnic seafood dishes myself, and I count myself all the richer (and fatter) for it. :wink:

P.S. there are like NO Serbian cookbooks out there that aren’t Serbian-American church potluck stuff, half of the recipes being what you could get from any church recipe collection (taco salad, divinity, perfection salad, ugh…) If anyone knowledgeable is interested in helping me rectify that, let me know. :slight_smile:

Well, now I may have to check out the 2017 Serbian Festival in town, which promises “spit-roasted lamb, chevaps, sarma, gibanica and more”.

Since the festival is sponsored by a local affiliate of the Serbian Orthodox Church I may have to resist a conversion attempt, which the food is probably intended to facilitate. :eek: