First Date Series: Cafe Sarajevo
The First Date Series takes a look at restaurants in Montreal where you might want to go -- or might not want to go -- on a first date. Some might remember Cafe Sarajevo from its previous location on Clark Street, where it was a happening place known for its traditional Balkan atmosphere, gypsy-inspired live music and authentic food.
That exotic gem closed its doors five yeas ago, later reopening on St. Laurent just above Beaubien. Although I'll go anywhere for a good meal, this sparse, strangely-almost-industrial strip of the Main, north of Mile End just below Little Italy's arches, is not my ideal first date locale.
The atmosphere inside Cafe Sarajevo is less similar to that of the cozy, bustling, colourful Cafe Sarajevo of the past than I'd hoped. The place is pretty big, making the already scantily populated restaurant seem empty. The dining area is close to the street-facing windows, and comfy looking tapestry-upholstered sofas and low tables create a lounge area at the back of the room.
The walls are lined with Bosnian War-themed spoof-on-pop-art posters like these- though political commentary may be a little risky on date number one.
We started our meal with the mixed plate starter, which was essentially salami, Balkan cheese, Brie, pickled red peppers, and a few slices of cucumber that were covered in an amazing sweet-meets-savoury raspberry sauce. The plate wasn't all that large, but inexpensive, and pickled peppers are a favourite of mine. The main courses, although they arrived at our table one by one with a few minutes in between, were more than first date worthy. The dishes were served on silver plates alongside seasoned potatoes, saffron-infused rice, and green salad. The marinated charcoal grilled chicken skewers were tender, just greasy enough, and perfectly crispy on the outside. Topped with chives, the salmon filet was nicely spiced, and for some reason the potatoes that accompanied this dish, and only this dish, were drizzled in the deliciously tart raspberry sauce that we'd encountered in the appetizer.
Served with raw onions and a dollop of traditional red pepper paste on a garlicky Bosnian flatbread, Cevapi, the mini minced beef kebabs, were outstanding. The meat was juicy and flavourful, and the red pepper dip gave the whole dish a little kick.
Cafe Sarajevo may not be my top pick for a first date, but if you're feeling adventurous and looking for remarkable, reasonably priced food on the fourth or fifth encounter, Cafe Sarajevo is a pretty good choice.
Cafe Sarajevo is located at 6548 St.Laurent and is open Monday to Thursday from 5.30 pm to midnight, and Friday to Sunday from 5.30 pm to 1 am. Live music events at Café Sarajevo scheduled to start up again soon!
Do you have suggestions for other fun first date places that Midnight Poutine should take a look at? Leave a comment below!