T.G.I.T (Thank goodness it’s Thursday) everyone! By this time of the week I am sure you are all bored of eating the monotonous work week meals and are gearing up for what you plan on nomming this weekend, am I right? Whether it be a succulent hamburger at your local bar or a five star meal in a restaurant that used to be a working church, anything goes as long as it’s worth rubbing in your coworkers’ faces on Monday morning.
As I had mentioned in my previous post, I have just recently returned to Belgrade, having spent a few months out of the country due to visa requirements. I think in some part of my mind I had hoped that slow paced Serbia would have remained completely unscathed, however the city of Belgrade does not sleep and new developments are now as frequent as Pekaras (bakeries) and Menjačnicas (exchange offices). Of course places to eat in this ever changing capital city are no exception.
Per usual, Saturday morning I had taken the bus 96 into the city center, my stomach already rumbling with anticipation of the multitude of delicious options I had been absent from for one too many months. My heart was set on RedBread (by Juice Bar) because 1.They have the best sandwiches not only in the Balkans but on the entire planet, and 2. Its aroma alone will give you a welcoming embrace like that of an old friend (something I desperately needed). On our ride in I was telling Milan about another sandwich place to consider on the corner of one of the oldest and most well known streets in Belgrade, Skadarlija . Low and behold however as we passed said road, the small eatery (which I believe was called ‘Sandwich Bar‘ and had only been in business since the end of last summer) was completely barren! I felt a sinking in my chest, as if I had missed out on a nom that would never be! I know we have all experienced what it’s like to loose a once beloved restaurant but is it better to have loved (nommed) and lost than to never have loved (nommed) at all? Let’s all take a moment of silence for Sandwich Bar…
This is unfortunately a common theme around the world, restaurants, cafes and bars…open for an instant and closed the next. But there is a silver lining: *Bonus side story* One of my favorite spots for a quick and healthy bite to eat, Burrito Madre located on Terazija has recently opened a second location on Karađorđeva Street near the Sava )…so I feel like perhaps there is a circle of life in the foodie kingdom as well. The balance of nom being restored.
RedBread too is the product of a successful sister restaurant, however not in Serbia but in the lovely port city of Budva, Montenegro. Milan and I had planned our vacation to this Balkan beach town last summer to soak up the sun and visit Branko, a local childhood friend of Milan’s. After a consecutive days of seafood indulgence, Branko had mentioned a tiny cafe in Stari Grad (Old City) that had “bomb” sandwiches. Juice Bar as it turned out to be, is tucked away beneath the ancient stones of the citadel in this old part of the city. Upon first look it appears to be just another small outdoor cafe with fresh juices and lunch advertised (in five different languages including English) to the tremendous amount of tourists weaving their way through the cobblestone alleyways. Little did I know I had just sat down at a Black Mountains hidden gem.
Juice Bar specializess in freshly made juices and smoothies but boast their luscious list of hot and cold sandwiches made specially on their homemade sun dried tomato bread. This being said we ordered mixed juices, bruchetta as an appetizer and three different sandwiches to split between us: Bella Italia, New York and River (follow above Redbread link to read mouthwatering description). Words cannot do justice as to how heavenly each sandwich was, my nom radar was off the charts! We had such an amazing meal that we all agreed to eat at Juice Bar again on our last day before we went to the airport. Plus I couldn’t wait to try their desserts either, beach vacation whaaat?
The waiter was pleasantly surprised to see us again to which we expanded our pallets slightly this time, Branko took a burger, myself half carrot-orange soup and half Mediterranean veggie sandwich, while Milan stuck valiantly to the ‘New York ‘ and potato wedges. I had spotted homemade cinnamon buns the second I sat down and made up my mind that it was going into my mouth one way or another. Probably the best cinnamon bun I’ve had in a very long time, smeared in cream cheese frosting, just my kind of bun. Milan and Branko split a slice of almond spice cake with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream. At this point I was glad I was already wearing comfortable traveling clothes.
How did I come to find out that Juice Bar and Red Bread were connected you ask? The wifi password for Juice Bar was “Red Bread Beograd” which sparked a light in my ever expanding memory bank of places in Belgrade I’ve walked past and wanted to eat at (I do an insane amount of walking so you can imagine how long that list is). I had passed Red Bread numerous times as it is located near my Serbian language workshop on Dositejeva Street and had been itching to go inside ever since. Our waiter confirmed that the owners of Juice Bar had opened another restaurant in Belgrade not only because of its evident success at their current location but also because of the seasonal waves of tourist business in Budva is generally during the summertime only. I was overjoyed. I NEEDED these sandwiches in my life.
Ergo what do you think my plan was when we got back to Belgrade…? You guessed it.
So here we are, returning to one of our most coveted spots in the Balkans: Red Bread. Their Dorćol location is larger than that of Juice Bar, with outdoor seating during the warmer months and a large colorful dining area inside that will make anyone who’s ever visited the West Coast of the United States feel right at home. I was delighted to see that it was full, mostly by families with small children and hungry Belgradians looking for something apart from Pljeskavica or street pizza.
Despite it being a sunny day at the end of February, it was still chilly enough to long for a nice hot bowl of something, so we ordered the Pumpkin-Cardamom soup and a glass of fresh ‘Orange Spice‘ juice. Both did the job of clearing our sinuses and creating that warm tingly feeling all over. When it came to the sandwiches, Milan yet again chose the New York and even though the Bella Italia was calling my name, I had half of the ‘Extra Classic‘ because after that phenomenal soup, a dressed up ham and cheese seemed necessary.
Milan was stuffed and I was blissfully satisfied. I savored each nom bite of that sandwich like it was gold, and when prices range from 170 dinars (half xclassic) – 550 dinars (full NY) the window to visit more often is very large. Plates of tantalizing american style pancakes, brownies and other sweet desserts swirled by us but sadly we couldn’t have eaten another bite! Before we squared the bill, I was curious to see if they sold their famous ‘red bread’ in loafs at the to-go counter, however the waitress regretted to inform us that they do not sell individual loafs but you can buy the pre-sliced triangles (as seen above) in pieces of eight. Perhaps it was for the better…because if they did I would likely refuse to eat on any other carbohydrate other than red bread for the remainder of my life. Yes people, I know I seem a bit dramatic but nomming is a very serious matter.
After reading this, have your lunch or dinner plans changed for the weekend? Got sandwiches on your brain perhaps? I don’t blame you. I will probably be out the door and heading for Red Bread the second after I publish this…if only they delivered to Borca. One can dream right?
As for my weekend plans, I have Vapiano and Hari’s Creperie on my agenda. Something old, something new, something NOM! Join me next week to see if my food adventures force me to undo a notch in my belt or not, just kidding (no I’m not).
Nom on people! (Of course not literally)