More accurately Bosnia and Herzegovina was the targeted country for the Culinary-passport this week when I visited Euro Grill & Café in Charlotte. This is a restaurant & market in a former residence on Central. It’s pretty easy to spot and while there are no parking places in front there are plenty in the back and you can enter from there as well. You walk into the market portion and while there are only two aisles they have a nice variety of the limited number of items they carry including meats & cheeses in cold cases.
From this area you take a couple of steps down through a door into the small seating area of the restaurant. It has 5 tables that seat between 2 and 4 people. There was also seating on the front porch too as I saw later when I was perusing the market, which also answered the question of where those other people who came in and paid for food were dining. It’s a family run place based on the conversation I heard coming from the kitchen. The young lady waiting on me most of the time was the daughter of the gentleman running the place. They were both very nice with genuine smiles when they talked to you.
There were several things on the menu that I wanted to try but since I can’t eat everything in one trip I went for a combo that got me small portions of two of their specialties, the cevapi & sudzukice. To drink I was planning to have a Croatian beer but since it was 11:30 Sunday in NC I had to alter my plans and try something else. That something else was a Fanta Shokata. I’ve given up drinking sodas for a couple of years now but special occasions call for exceptions and a Fanta concoction in a blue bottle seemed special enough.
It was quite different and interestingly tasty. On first sip it started with a very floral taste that resolved into a citrusy kick as the carbonation rolled across the tongue. It was pretty sweet but as I said very good and if I still drank sodas on a regular basis I could see adding this to the rotation. Turns out this is elderberry & lemon soda which pretty much explains my first impression. This wasn’t fast food but the wait was reasonable since I could actually hear them preparing it.
The specialties were two types of sausages. The cevapis are small beef sausages that look very much like breakfast links you see in the grocery store. The sudzukice are the longer, smoother sausages and are spicier that the cevapi. The bread they were served on is Bosnian flatbread called lepinja and was fanstatic. There was a side of chopped onions and fries as you can see and the condiments were ketchup, house made sour cream and roasted vegetable spread. The cevaps were caseless beef rolls lightly seasoned and grilled and there were 5 of them. The sudzukice were beef but had more spices including some heat and were about twice the length of the others and there were two of them. The homemade bread and the number and configuration of the sausages made eating it like a sandwich problematic so I ate some with the fork and some I tore the bread halves in half and made mini sandwiches. I alternated adding the roasted vegetables and sour cream as I ate. The roasted vegetables (ajvar) I asked about since I had not idea what it was. It is made primarily from peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes and interestingly the eggplant was the most distinctive of the three to me. The fries, while being standard fare were cooked just about perfectly. After finishing this I decided I’d try some of the Bosnian coffee I’d heard about.
This was an interesting set up. There was an island of grounds floating on the coffee underneath so when I poured it there was no way it was going to be ground free. The sugar cubes were dense squares of sweetness whose crystals were not as big as I’m used to but it worked. It started out very hot but cooled quickly and had a nice strong flavor. The copper pot held two servings which I finished in less than 15 minutes which earned me a chiding from the owner. He asked how I liked the coffee and I told him I did and although he hesitated and smiled when he said it he informed me that Bosnian coffee was to be lingered over and enjoyed in small sips over the course of 45 mins to and hour or more. Ooops, cultural faux pas. Either way it was good. The little pink thing was like a Turkish delight. I wasn’t sure about the flavor at the time but it also had a flowery sweet taste and later I saw they sold a rose version of the candy in the store so that’s what I’m going with. The water is there for two reasons as far as I can tell; one to give you something else to sip between the lingering sips of coffee and at the end to rinse the grounds out of your teeth, which I think is honestly the most important of the two.
After paying up I checked out the market and wound up buying some Slovenian wood smoked dry cured sausage (that got an approving nod at the register), some sheep cheese from Bulgaria, and some pâtés from Croatia and Slovenia. I can’t believe I didn’t buy any crackers.
I went deliberately at a time I hoped wasn’t busy but by the time I left I would have expected this place to have more traffic that it did. The food was top notch and the folks friendly plus a market with stuff you can’t pronounce, how is it not swamped?
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