Balkan up

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Balkan Grill, 8-14 Helene Street, Ardeer (entry via Yallourn Street). Phone: 0438 887 017

A Balkan restaurant.

Affiliated to a soccer club.

In Ardeer.

Could anything be more western suburbs – or more perfect for a CTS adventure?

No.

As well, and putting aside geographical and sports factors, the Balkan Grill menu (see below) is stuffed with all sorts of interesting food offerings – some of them familiar, but many with tongue-twisting names.

And the prices hit the CTS sweet spot – a few things over $20, but not many.

Balkan Grill is located in the clubrooms of Westgate Sindjelic FC and is just a few weeks old when we – myself, Bennie and Nat – pay a dinner visit.

The ambience is footy club through and through – and that’s something about which we simply don’t care.

 

 

Balkan Grill is the brainchild of Danilo Majmunovic.

He’s an experienced chef who’s cooked all over Australia.

And now he’s set up shop in Ardeer – and we reckon that’s a smart move.

It’s not like there’s a lot of competition in this rather lovely residential backwater that surely boasts as many hungry people per block as anywhere else.

And we even more reckon it’s a smart move after Danilo feeds us good.

 

 

Nat goes with the cevapi u slanini ($20) – Danilo’s cevapi wrapped in bacon and served with chopped onion on a “Sarajevo somun” roll.

 

 

Nat likes his cevapi plenty, accompanying them with a side serve of good fries ($3.50).

 

 

Bennie selects gurmanska pljeskavica – 285 grams of homemade minced pork and beef, seasoned with secret ingredients, filled with triple smoked ham and cheese ($20).

Again, this is superb meat and Bennie loves it.

Moreover, the cheese and ham really is top-grade stuff.

Think of this as an inside-out parmigiana – and way better than most parmas dished out across Melbourne.

 

 

Bennie, too, gets a side of chips with his meat offering – and also a side of Balkan Grill’s cabbage salad ($2).

Knowing that cabbage salad was going to grace our table, Bennie and I had discussed this issue as we drove to Ardeer.

We agreed that – forget the meat – it is cabbage salad that is the true benchmark for food such as this and establishments that serve it.

Bennie, rightly, counts himself an expert on account of frequent food gifts from his ace WeFo neighbour, Draga.

And he gives the Balkan Grill version a hefty two thumbs up – even though it is more coarsely chopped than Draga’s.

I like it heaps, too.

And as Nat points out, it actually looks oily, but is not – instead, it boasts a fetching vinegary tang.

 

 

I order the mixed grill ($28) – and to be honest, I’m not quite what the hell I was thinking.

I mean, this half-kilogram vegetarian’s nightmare is ridiculous; preposterous.

In fact, better to think of it as a share platter for two – and at $14 each, that’s a dead-set bargain.

As well as slight variations of the meat deals ordered by Nat and Bennie, it also features BBQ sausages (rostiljska kobasica), pork neck medallion and dimljena vesalica (smoked pork tenderloin).

The meat is served with kajmak (a sort of creamed feta), ajvar (red pepper relish) and cabbage salad.

It’s all very good, but even with nibble assistance from Nat and Bennie, I am utterly defeated – about half my mixed grill goes home with us.

That ALL our meat has been offered up to us unadorned and rather well done is no surprise to any of us three, as we all are at least somewhat familiar with this style of cooking.

But be warned – it is what it is; if you want something more lubricated and juicy, it may be better to look to the menu’s soup and salads and sarma (stuffed cabbage leaves).

As we will do when next we visit!

 

 

There’s a final delicious surprise in store for us at Balkan Grill.

Finding Balkan grilled fare at an Ardeer soccer club is thoroughly wonderful, of course, but that not much of a stretch by western suburbs oddball standards.

But finding all that AND that the chef also creates all his own desserts – including cakes and baklava – is superbly shocking.

Bennie nods enthusiastically during his consumption of Danilo’s Ferrero Rocher cake, allowing his father a few lusty mouthfuls along the way.

The price is $4.50.

Gosh.

Check out the Balkan Grill website here.

 

 

Awesome meat, superb pricing

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Euro Cafe & Grill, Shop 26, 1-3 Princess Street, St Albans. Phone 9364 0451

Euro Cafe & Grill is about a block from the Vietnamese-heavy joy of Alfrieda Street.

We’ve been here before – many years ago, for an early CTS post, when similar food was being served under another name.

After that, the place closed.

A new name and new management were put in place a while ago and when we venture in we find it’s being run by Bosinian Steve and his wife, who were customers at the former set-up.

We like their style.

The food is similar to that you’ll find at, say, the Croatian club.

There’s stuffed cabbage, for instance.

 

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But mostly there are grills of many kinds.

There are no chips – unusual for this kind of food.

But we’re not at all put out – if anything, this makes our Sunday lunch more enjoyable and more guilt-free.

Moreover, the food here is not only very fine but also superbly affordable.

Look, it may be a case of comparing apples and oranges … and this may be a low-overhead mom-and-pop operation.

But still – grills and accessories for $14 to $18 certainly shed an interesting comparison light on the many burger and barbecue places that have shot up all over Melbourne in the past couple of years.

 

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Our meal commences with lovely bread – not made in-house but sourced from Jenny Bakery just up the road.

It’s nothing flash but just right for the job and the food at hand.

Chevapi ($14, top photo) are superb.

There’s 10 of them and every one is a chewy, meaty cigar of delicious.

 

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Pleskavica – big patties – come in beef and chicken versions, with or without stuffed with cheese.

Our plain beef number ($14) is just as yummy as the chevapi.

Bennie and I split the meat contents of our two plates and struggle to finish, so generous are the portions.

Served with our meals are diced onion, a simple cuke-and-tomato salad and finely chopped white cabbage.

The latter is austere – we are used to having a little salt, pepper, vinegar and perhaps oil with such cabbage. But there is vinegar at our table and we should’ve made happy with it.

As well, small bowls of capsicum relish are brought to our table – they add dash and color very nicely.

During busier times – dinner at the end of the week, for instance – dishes such as goulash, tripe soup or lamb on the spit may or may not be available.

Just depends; it’s that kind of place.

But Steve is adamant we really, really should return for his ribs.

Count on it!

 

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