Fantasy Avenue Food at Balkan StrEAT

William Djuric, the chef and co-operator of the West Village’s new rapid-relaxed restaurant Balkan StrEAT, grew up—on the Higher East Side—with the meals of the Balkans. His father, a Serbian artist, cooked goulash at home in the summers the two of them travelled to Belgrade, and they would try to eat their way by way of the region. Afterwards in everyday living, Djuric attended the Institute of Culinary Training and labored at Bouchon Bakery, Gramercy Tavern, and Momofuku Ssäm Bar, all the though dreaming of opening his personal ćevapi position. Ćevapi—kebabs served by itself or on a bun, with ajvar, a spread of roasted purple pepper—are the final Serbian street food items. “I realized that inevitably, when I did my individual detail, ideally one particular day, it would be Balkan food,” Djuric instructed me. “You can get it in Manhattan, but I constantly believed one thing was missing—a place that represented the road food stuff, the vibe that I experienced.”

The baker Milan Milijančević, formerly the head of pastry at the Hotel Moskva, in Belgrade, hand-stretches the dough for burek.

Djuric afterwards married a lady who is half Croatian and half Serbian, but it was the pandemic that spurred him into motion. He and Jason Correa—a friend considering the fact that middle university, and a former director for the Tao Group—decided to go for it: following a 12 months of scheduling, they opened Balkan StrEAT in January.

“I like to say that this is my fantasy edition of what I remember,” Djuric reported. The dazzling, clean room, with dark-red tile and terrazzo counters, fits 6 tables in the entrance, following to a painted mural with photographs of Balkan kitsch pleasant cashiers with Serbo-Croatian accents offer descriptions of unfamiliar menu goods to individuals not in the know. Ćevapi are shaped into four-inch grilled kebabs, built in this article with beef and salt and a several “secret substances,” in accordance to Djuric, served 5 or ten to a tray, with ajvar, pickled eco-friendly fefferoni peppers, lightly dressed shredded cabbage, and wedges of bread. There is the šiš ćevap, a ćevap sandwich on a hoagie-size bun the pljeskavica, a burger produced of the exact ćevap meat, on a flat six-inch bun and burek, baked phyllo pie stuffed with your option of brined cow’s-milk piknik cheese, spinach and piknik cheese, potato and onion, or lamb and floor beef.

Cheese burek is filled with piknik, a brined cow’s-milk cheese identical to feta. Cockta soda tastes some thing like a cross in between cream soda and Dr Pepper.

All the meat dishes are accompanied by lepinja, a delectable spongy white bread with a crisp exterior—“a cross involving pita and English muffin,” as a person purchaser explained it—cooked at seven hundred degrees in the shop’s pizza oven for just a several minutes. The baked products are manufactured in-household by Milan Milijančević, an artisan recruited from Belgrade and formerly the head baker at Hotel Moskva, famed for its cakes.

For the irresistible burek, Milijančević hand-stretches phyllo dough and varnishes it with vegetable shortening (as opposed to conventional Serbian pork body fat), yielding gentle, crunchy edges and chewy interior levels. Djuric mentioned that hand-stretching is unheard of: “It’s a very tough point to do, so even the most effective restaurants will use phyllo sheets. But you’re hardly ever heading to get that burek texture, with the doughiness in among and the flakiness on the edge, if you don’t hand-stretch it.” Milijančević will make best krofne, too—great puffball doughnuts, in wealthy flavors including raspberry, with a magenta dusting of crushed and sugared freeze-dried raspberries, and pistachio, filled with a thick, not way too sweet custard.

Krofne flavors involve raspberry, pistachio, and Nutella.

You can also discover Balkan cuisine across city at Kafana (116 Avenue C), an atmospheric outdated-environment Serbian tavern in the East Village. There, gruffly type waiters dole out huge portions of fried spearing, a baitfish ljuta, spicy pork-and-jalapeño sausage pork ribs in bean stew and zeljanica, a dense spinach pie, together with a wide assortment of Balkan wines. Djuric and Correa are growing to that neighborhood, too: in May perhaps, they strategy to open a second, even larger restaurant, with desk support, wine, and Balkan beers. An prolonged menu will consist of Balkan StrEAT’s clincher, a warmly spiced goulash—tender hunks of beef brisket in a thick gravy of tomato, pink pepper, and sweet paprika, in excess of mashed potatoes—which a lot more than something tastes like household. (Dishes $5-$16.) ♦