1/26/2013 02:41:00 PM
Ethnic Eats: Serbian Zeljanica at Kafana
As far as Eastern European comfort food goes, this is one of the standbys. People eat it all the time: for breakfast, for lunch, for when guests come over, you name it. The more traditional version is sans spinach (which is also found on the menu as gibanica, or cheese pie) and is typically paired with brandy or ayran, a salted-yogurt-and-water drink.
Enter Kafana, a much-lauded Serbian restaurant tucked away in the East Village. It’s small, unpretentious, and filled with light-eyed servers who calmly serve the European way: unhurried yet sincere. There is no hovering, no rushing patrons to leave so they can fill the next table. You sit, you drink, you eat, and only once you are done and have held many bouts of significant eye contact with your waiter will they approach.
And while Kafana is known more for their meat-centric offerings (and their incredible roasted red pepper spread that comes with the customary offering of bread), their zeljanica is what ended up being truly craveable. Layer upon layer of delicate pastry dough made this appetizer a winner, even though a teeny tiny bit of extra cheese in the mixture might have made it even better. But a touch of salt, along with a mid-afternoon glass of prosecco, will make all ails go away - and have you coming back for more.
The Details: 116 Avenue C; 212-353-8000
Labels: New York City