A while back I was telling you about Balkanica 303 - the first Balkan restaurant in Krakow. Balkanica 303 is a decent, quite serious place, where one would come with the family and friends to have a nice dinner out in the town. The place I will tell you about today, the Balkan Express Grill, is very similar when it comes to the menu but 100% different when it comes to the style and the target audience. If I would dress out for Balkanica 303, for Balkan Express Grill I would not mind qoing there in short jeans and a t-shirt.
Balkan Express Grill looked for me more like a take-out place, than a place where I would sit comfortably and eat. But I wanted to give it a go and the benefit of a doubt. After checking out Balkanica 303 I wanted to know how their pljeskavica tastes and if there is a difference in the other Balkan restaurants in Krakow. Balkan Express Grill was the first one on the list - one lovely sunny Saturday afternoon I was hungry as I could get and I was passing by Florianska street (make that Florianska 39, to be precise), when I said to myself: "Why not give it a go today!" - so I went ahead through the entrance, to the inner courtyard, and walked right through the black door.
Quite surprising was the fact that when opening the black door, you don't actually get inside the place... you are at the main hallway and there is no other way to go then to the left. To the left you will see another door and a stairway leading to an upper floor. The door leads you to the toilet - shared basin for washing hands plus 2 separate rooms for the WC, one for ladies and one for gents. The stairs leading to the upper floor bring you to the main room of Balkan Express Grill - where you will find around 9-10 tables and the bar area.
The Balkan Express Grill is self-service and usually it is open on a daily basis, between 11:00 and 23:00 - but just in case, it is always better to check their Facebook page as they usually post a comment in case the place is closed for the day or booked fully for private parties. You can order online or you can pick up the products yourself. Or you can just jump in and stay a while as you eat your lunch - just as I did :)
The menu at Balkan Express Grill is not extensive, but I consider that as a plus - the chef gets to specialise and if there are only a few things on the menu, than you can be sure the ingredients are as fresh as they could get! :) There are around 5 types of pljeskavica and 2 of cevapi. The price range is between 10 and 16 zloty (as per March 2015) & you can pair the meal up with some water/lemonade/juice/tea/beer (your choice!).
A huge minus of the place is the plastic - non-eco-friendly feeling about it. If you want, you can have fork and knife but they are plastic. If you want to have some water and not drink from the bottle you can have a glass, but it is plastic... You get what I mean? I cannot get attached to a place that uses plastic that much, but if you take that aside I must admit that Balkan Express Grill earns respect when it comes to the food! Of course this is no vegetarian place, if you love meat you will love this place!
The pljeskavica I ate was nothing like the one from Balkanica 303- it was served in fresh hot homemade bread and it was all packed up in one: the minced mixed meat + salad + the sauce = pljeskavica. Now I don't know how traditionally the pljeskavica is served, but I must admit I liked both options - the one from Balkan Express Grill and the one from Balkanica 303. I liked them as both as both were delicious yet totally different from one another! The meat was awesomely spiced and in comination with the white garlic-cheese sauce it was a great meal - it was filling and lasting.
I must admit I will go there again, just to try the version of pljeskavica with sesame seeds and also the cevapi - that I have never yet tasted anywhere. I wanted to buy some baklawa at the end but I was too full... ;))) Great service, great music, great music! Things Balkan Express Grill needs to work upon: number of seats, plastic forks/knife/glasses. Loved the white - red tablecloth & window blinds - matching the brand logo - well done ;)
A LadyBug That Loves Balkan Food - Especially Greek!