Two Fast Meals in Nis, Serbia

As I mentioned in my last entry, fast food and casual eateries seems to be the way to go in Serbia and its neighbouring countries. Note that I’m not talking about McDonalds (though a good burger joint is always popular) – I’m referring to bakeries (known as pekaras), pizza joints, sandwich bars, and the such. We had two such ‘quick’ fast food meals while in Nis – the first at a chain called Cezar where the tagline is “different fast food”.

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Bakina pica parce, 150 Serbian Dinar

Takeaway pizza slices seem to be popular with the local teens, but we opted to eat in at one of their few tables. First up was a slice of the bacon pizza, served with a drizzle of chilli sauce on top. Interestingly when you order a slice of pizza at Cezar’s, the staff will ask you if you want ketchup, mayonnaise or chilli sauce drizzled on top. It’s not served as-is the way we have it in Australia. In any case, the chilli sauce gave the pizza a nice kick of flavour, though it hardly needed it with the super tasty and savoury bacon on top.

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Cappricosa parce, 135 Serbian Dinar

We also ordered a slice of the capricciosa pizza (spelt as ‘cappricosa’ in Serbia), though it’s better described as a ham and mushroom pizza as it seemed to lack the artichokes that characterise a good capricciosa. We went sauce-less on the top of this pizza, though this is the one that probably would have benefited from that extra kick of chilli sauce as it was a bit plainer than the bacon pizza. Still, the pizza base itself was cooked well with the type of charcoaling crusting on the base that gives pizza that extra bit of flavour.

On a separate note, I love how they serve pizza with a pizza wheel instead of a knife – it makes so much sense! I told K that on our return to Australia, I intend on opening up a pizza restaurant that offers pizza wheels with every meal. Naturally, this restaurant will be called ‘Wheely Good Pizza’.

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Cezar Salata, 280 Serbian Dinar

Pizza alone isn’t the healthiest meal, so we decided to order a salad as well. The only salad available was the Cezar Salata, a play on the traditional caesar salad. The server asked us if we wanted cheese and sour cream on the salad, and we thought….why not, a bit can’t hurt? This is why not. There’s no such thing as a moderate amount of cheese and cream here – it’s all or nothing! We ended up scraping off most of the cream and cheese off the salad to save our lactose-intolerant stomachs. Unfortunately the salad itself was quite bland and boring, without the fresh crispy romaine lettuce that really characterises a good caesar salad.

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Pomfrit veci, 110 Serbian Dinar

We finished off our meal with a serve of the Pomfrit, or french fries. Not much to say here – they were nice and crispy, and the ketchup on top was a nice touch for me, but less so for K who prefers plain fries.

All in all, Cezar’s is really the type of fast food joint where you stop in for a generous slice of above-average pizza, rather than linger over a longer meal. Try some of the chilli sauce on your pizza slice!

Cezar is located at 47a Nikole Pasica in Nis, Serbia.

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Our next stop for a ‘fast food lunch’ was at one of the many pekaras in Nis city centre, where every local will drop in for a pastry or some burek. We opted for one of the larger pekaras with seating available – Pekara Brankovic – rather than a small takeaway pekara. They have 18 branches scattered around the greater Nis area, but we went to one of the more central locations a mere minute’s walk from Nis Fortress.

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Between the two of us we ordered a spinach and cheese pie (100 dinars), a French pastry with ham and cheese (80 dinars) and a palacinke with Eurocrem (65 dinars). Don’t even bother with ordering palacinke (pancake) from Pekara Brankovic – our was extremely underdone and disappointing. Palacinke is really something you need to order fresh from a small stall on the street, not something you get from a bakery. The pie was a much better choice with a good amount of spinach and salty cheese inside, and as an added bonus it wasn’t as oily as burek normally is.

For a full list of Pekara Brankovic locations in Nis, visit their website.

We tried the two different types of fast food that Nis is most famous for from two different eateries. Pizza slices are definitely my pick over the usual bakery/pekara fare – I think it’s a lot easier to find a tasty pizza slice, than it is to find a good pastry. Unfortunately healthier fast food options are less readily found in this area, and I did find myself craving a green juice and a coconut chia seed pudding to cleanse my palate after the heavier and oilier meals in Nis!

Review: Night and Day, Nis Serbia

Many of the articles and advice I had read online suggested that the small-ish spa town of Nis in Serbia was a food destination in the country, with particular reference to their excellent pizzas and Italian restaurants. Fast-food pizza joints are common where you can buy pizza by the slice, but we opted to try a more formal sit-down Italian restaurant around the corner from our B&B, called Night and Day.

When you enter, make sure you ask to be seated in the back room which is a no-smoking zone! It means you can sit away from the groups of people chain-smoking in the restaurant as they drink their cocktails and share a pizza. As an added benefit, the TVs in the non-smoking room are constantly tuned to the Serbian TV network 24 Kitchen which runs international cooking shows day-round. It’s quite an addictive network, even when you can’t understand what the presenters are saying and can’t read the subtitles either!

Thai Salad with Beef Sirloin Steak, 480 Serbian Dinar
Thai Salad with Beef Sirloin Steak, 480 Serbian Dinar

We ordered a Thai Salad with Beef Sirloin Steak to share – I missed my healthy fresh Thai-style salads! Unfortunately this one didn’t quite live up to expectations, with the ‘Thai’ element present only in the slight use of chilli in the creamy mayonnaise dressing and a scant scattering of peanuts on top. The beef had been sliced then over-grilled, resulting in tough leathery pieces of meat, rather than the tender pieces of beef that should top a Thai-style salad. The main benefit of this salad was how ample it was – more than sufficient as a meal for one person, and a good serving to share between two people. Mea culpa – next time, we’ll know to order something simpler like a caprese salad!

Soup of the Day with toasted gouda sandwich, 220 Serbian Dinar
Soup of the Day with toasted gouda sandwich, 220 Serbian Dinar

We also ordered the Soup of the Day – a creamy mushroom soup served with toasted cheese sandwich triangles on the side. I liked the mushroom soup – despite its name, it actually wasn’t as creamy as I thought it would be, and I think the texture comes more from an abundant use of blended mushrooms than it does actual cream. Unfortunately the gouda in the cheese sandwich wasn’t melted the way it should be in a good cheese toastie – a definite no-no in my book as a self-proclaimed connoisseur of the cheese toastie.

Prosciutto crudo e Night and Day, 650 Serbian Dinar
Prosciutto crudo e Night and Day, 650 Serbian Dinar

We finished off with a pizza – a Prosciutto crudo e Night and Day. Honestly we probably didn’t need to order this pizza as the first two dishes had already filled us up sufficiently. However given the reputation for fine pizza in Nis, we buckled down and bravely ate a few slices each. The prosciutto was quite salty and with the number of olives on the pizza, it proved to be a bit too strong for me – I ended up picking the olives off my slices. I liked the slightly doughier pizza base, but unfortunately it wasn’t cooked as well as it could have been on the base, with no sign of charcoal crusting at all. I found this pizza a bit hit and miss to be honest.

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All in all, our meal at Night and Day didn’t quite live up to the expectations set by the numerous articles I’d read extolling the virtues of Italian food in Nis. Perhaps we should have moved away from the more formal sit-down restaurant and tried Night and Day’s more casual takeaway pizzeria just down the street? Casual takeaway dining definitely seems to be more of a trend in Nis – I’ll talk more about that in my next blog entry!

Night and Day is located on the first floor of 31 Obrenoviceva in Nis, Serbia.

Review: Tramway Cafe, Nis Serbia

I’m not going to lie, K and I made some rude jokes about the name of this cafe. While it looks like Tramvaj, I believe that it’s actually supposed to be translated into English as Tramway. However as we are incredibly juvenile, we kept pronouncing it as Tramvaj. Anyway.

Tramway is located on the main pedestrian street of Nis in Serbia, and is unique in that it’s one of the few places that actually offers food as well as drinks. We walked past a million small bars serving drinks but Tramway was one of the few that served food as well. While they do specialise in desserts (choose between twenty different types of ice-cream sundaes!), there’s also a few sandwiches and salads you can choose from.

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The distinguishing feature of Tramway is the way they are set up – the whole interior of the cafe is designed as though it is a tram from the 1950s. The bar and kitchen area is like the exterior of a tram, and the seating are small tram seats – so the booths can be a little bit tight! Like most cafes and bars in Serbia, Tramway is also a free-smoking bar so be prepared to sit and eat with people all around you puffing away on cigarettes.

Lemonade, 140 Serbian Dinar
Lemonade, 140 Serbian Dinar

K started off with ordering a Lemonade, which was essentially just slightly diluted unsweetened lemon juice. The expectation is that you sweeten the lemonade yourself, hence they drop off a sugar canister at your table at the same time as the lemonade. The main problem with this is that even if you put in a few shakes of the sugar canister, the sugar doesn’t actually dissolve properly so you’re still left with an incredibly sour lemonade.

Ham, cheese and mushroom sandwich, 195 Serbian Dinar
Ham, cheese and mushroom sandwich, 195 Serbian Dinar

We shared a sandwich – a Ham, Cheese and Mushroom Sandwich. Unfortunately it seemed as though the mushrooms came out of a tin, and the grated cheese would have been better if it had been melted slightly. Still, it’s a pretty standard sandwich in a roll and at the cost of $2.50 AUD, it was surprisingly cheaper than many of the options at local fast-food outlets.

Fresh salad with feta, 205 Serbian Dinar
Fresh salad with feta, 205 Serbian Dinar

We also shared a Fresh Salad With Feta, a simple mix of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, sliced jarred olives and cubed feta cheese. While the salad itself was nothing special (a few too many olives and a little over-dressed for my liking), the feta was incredibly creamy and rich – one of the best fetas I’ve ever tasted.

Kupovi Solo Frutto, 405 Serbian Dinar
Kupovi Solo Frutto, 405 Serbian Dinar

Choosing to stay healthy, we ordered a Fruit Cup to round off our meal rather than an ice-cream sundae. I was hoping for a selection of fresh fruit as we’d been finding it difficult to buy nice fruit in Nis – much of the produce in the local supermarket was bruised, wrinkly, or mushy.

Unfortunately, a number of the items on this platter were actually from tins – tinned cherries, tinned strawberries and tinned pineapple (which had gone slightly off). It was quite disappointing and given that it wasn’t all fresh fruit, the cost of the platter seemed over-inflated.

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I can’t rave about our meal at Tramway Cafe – too much of what they serve isn’t fresh. If I wanted to have food out of a can, I would make it myself in my hotel room, not pay an inflated price for it in a smoky cafe. I suspect that Tramway is the type of place you go for a coffee and a slice of cake or a scoop of ice-cream – somewhere you go for a snack rather than for a full meal.

Tramway Cafe is located at 20 Obrenoviceva in Nis, Serbia.