This was my first time eating serbian food and sitting inside an eastern european styled restaurant.
i've read about eastern european cuisine, tasted a couple things here and there at european festivals and food fairs, but it was mostly never a complete picture for me.
today, i took the liberty of visiting balkan house for lunch. having heard wonderful things about their buffet, i decided to give it a try.
first thought was, the buffet isn't big. this isn't necessarily a bad thing. @ 19.00 including tip for lunch (16.95 + tax and tip = 19.00 for me), i'd come here to eat again, but i do have a few suggestions and, at minimal, wishes.
i think adding in just 2 more dish, would make the value feel better. maybe even 1 more entree and 1 more dessert choice. the reason is everything just feels minimal - despite the great quality and cookery of the foods, a buffet also needs choice.
the buffet included dishes such as buttered mashed potatoes, serbian style rice, a baked potato hash or sorts, steamed veggies, a kind of veal roulade (The star of this buffet), serbian cevapi, rotisserie chicken, a meat creamy sauce / stew and another sauce stew of a tomato nature for the schnitzels.
the mashed potatoes were well seasoned, creamy and hearty.
rice was nothing to rave about.
the baked potato hash was also well seasoned and the browning of parts of the hash added more flavors.
steamed veggies...well what can i say? it's steamed veggies - eat your vegetables!
also on the veggies side, you have your choice of greek salad or coleslaw. now, the greek salad was average but the coleslaw was great. healthy, not creamy and full of vinegar kick. a great salad that is healthy and cuts through the fattiness of the entrees.
the veal roulade, the star of the buffet, was cooked to perfection. i felt, at first if this dish would actually make them lose money because of the time needed to bake this plus the ingredient itself (Veal isn't cheap). in the end, coming to the buffet just for the veal and the dessert (I will get to it later), will be well worth it.
the cevapi was also well seasoned and grilled although a little bit dry, along with the schnitzel, maybe because the meat they used were on the leaner side and does not sit well under a heated buffet lamp.
the creamy stew with meat was excellent but the meat chucks inside the stew were a little bit dry. i can not vouch whether this is due to authenticity or because of the nature of buffets always sucking the moisture out of foods, but this was a stew so...at least for me, i could eat a whole bowl of it smothered over rice.
the tomato sauce stew was also quite good, not overly salty and went well with the meats, especially the schnitzel.
serbian cuisine to me, because i am new to it, gives me a feeling of richness, heartiness and simplicity. whenever i eat a new cuisine, i do not judge it culinary or objectively, but rather from a cultural, historical and humane perspective. some people maybe call serbian cuisine bland, but it does have its charms and tenacity.
especially in its dessert and fruit punch. i'd love it if they could push out one more dessert but, that's just me.
for the dessert, the homemade serbian style cheesecake, was a first time for me of this style. it was absolutely delicious. not sweet. soft and airy, light and foamy like, it was like eating a piece of heavenly clouds. i'd imagine eastern european cheesecakes to be similar in nature such as this, when compared to the more heavier, more dense style of new york that many people around here are more accustomed to.
the fruit punch was just a darling to drink, but they really need to put more on the buffet table. it went empty fast, along with the cheesecake :).
service was also very good. the waitress was just sweet and lovely and very helpful. the chef, who came out often to load up on more foods and also to check the foods, was very helpful, informative and proud of his creations. overall, the staff was very nice.
i'd return again, but this isn't a place i can eat at often due to health reasons since the cuisine is in itself quite high in fat. but this is eastern europe after all, so while there, i enjoyed the experience and food.