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May, 2019

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As we were arriving in Belgrade late afternoon, I’d researched a restaurant called Kolarac for our first night’s dinner. It appeared to be a short walk from our hotel. We found a restaurant in the right location, but it was called Petropah. So, we walked a little further and found my second choice: this was when we realised ‘Petropah’ simply means restaurant.

“Brankovina”: was a small local restaurant with a large picture display of dishes with names in English outside. On entering, the right-hand side appeared casual with a bar and unset tables with red and white gingham table cloths, whereas to the left, was a more formal dining area with six tables for five all formally laid with double table cloths, glasses, flowers, a bottle of red and a basket of rose and apricot coloured paper napkins.

Having read that the restaurant had an illustrated English menu, I was surprised to be presented with a leather-bound menu with a huge range of dishes and drinks, fortunately both in English and Cyrillic. When the middle-aged woman approached, I began pointing to what I wanted, but found she spoke excellent English. The conversation went like this:

Me: I’ll have the potato moussaka please.
Waitress: I’m sorry I don’t have that.
Me: Ok, I’ll have the meatballs in tomato sauce.
Waitress: I’m sorry I don’t have that.
Me: Ok, I’ll have the grilled fillet of pork.
Waitress: I’ll tell you what we have.

She then quickly rattled off six available dishes. One was a beef goulash which Roy had chosen, so I opted for stuffed zucchini. We also chose a half litre carafe of what was described as ‘domestic chardonnay’ and a large bottle of sparkling water.

The drinks were accompanied by an ash tray, as the Serbs haven’t yet introduced the concept of no-smoking restaurants. The wine was fine, but much better with a splash of sparkling water. The food arrived relatively quickly which wasn’t surprising bearing in mind their limited dishes. The goulash sauce was thick and tasty and the meat tender, although we suspect it wasn’t beef due to the pale colour and thought it was probably veal which is very popular. The zucchini was stuffed with meat and I hoped it wasn’t with the ‘lambs’ guts’ I’d seen on the main menu. Both dishes were served with two ice-cream scoops of creamy mashed potato. A breadbasket was generously filled with five large hunks of bread and I was given a sauce bowl of something that looked like yoghurt which was said to go with the zucchini – later we thought this may have been kajmak, a salty cream cheese spread unique to Serbia.

Fortunately, two smoking Serbs left just after we arrived, and the only other customers were an elderly Serbian couple with a vociferous young American girl who was loudly regaling them with tales about having been sent to boot camp by her parents. She was particularly argumentative with the old chap and we could well understand her parent’s decision. The other table was taken by a young Asian couple and toddler who were in and out very quickly.

Our bill came to a very reasonable 2,400 dinar or £18 after we’d added on a 12% tip. As this was our first night, we thought we’d fared rather well.

Helen Jackson

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