We’ve eaten different culinary delights of other countries or regions, so for this time, we decided to go into terra incognita with Balkan. After all, Macedonia of Alexander the Great’s time started in the southern part of today’s Balkan region.
Along with Kat’s family, we celebrated her birthday at Balkan, a pub inspired by its namesake within the BGC area in Taguig. While it has some familiar bits and pieces in their menu with things like hummus or pizza, we all decided to order food native to the region.
After sitting down and giving the place a glance, the ambiance is surprisingly fitting as both a pub and a casual dining place with friends on a late night run. It could make any person unwind from all the stresses of the work day and forget about it for a good while. Or even when one could actually drink, a brewski to watch the next game or match coming up.
Before everyone was complete, we had feta cheese dip and it was a flavorful mix of melted feta cheese, tomatoes, and herbs that helped get our tastebuds energized for more.
Just as we were about finished with the dip and fresh flatbread, everyone else arrived. For this dinner, Lee had the ćevapčići platter and Kat had the stuffed chicken batak. Along with that, everyone shared in the large helping of goulash and two orders of green salad with dried figs.
First thing we all noticed when the food arrived is that, even with one serving, it’s good for sharing, which makes the place great to bring in some friends along instead of turning it into a solo adventure or a date for two.
The vegetables from the green salad were fresh and crisp, complementing the slightly sweet and chewy texture of the figs, as well as the crunch of the walnuts. Cleans the palate well from the initial burst of flavor from the dip.
As for the goulash, it was hands down the star of the night. Its rich complex flavors and the slow-cooked tender meat lend itself to an experience that brings back memories of food trips in Europe.
The ćevapčići is a skinless sausage that closely resembles its skinless cousin here in the Philippines known as longanisa, but in terms of taste, it does have less of a kick compared to our native counterpart. The meat was tender and flavorful, and the mashed potato was well executed because of its smooth texture and light seasoning.
The stuffed chicken batak was actually a chicken thigh fillet rolled and stuffed with meat and covered with cheese. This dish was light on the palate but very filling to the stomach. The melted cheese and baked chicken provided the perfect backdrop to the flavors of the smoked meat stuffing.
The Balkan, as a culinary tavern of Eastern European delights, has plenty to offer anyone curious about the region’s cuisine.
Food Score: 5/5. It’s not everyday that one sees a group of stringent foodies all satisfied with their feast. Specially with that goulash.
Ambiance / Service Score: 2/5. While the ambiance was nicely set, the servers were too inattentive to properly take care of our orders or address our needs for this particular instance, something we hope they can improve on the next time.
GERD Score: 3.5/5. With a place that has a hearty serving of food, one has to take it easy or share the meal with another person, from the salads to the entreés.
Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Unfortunately the problem with cuisine that relies heavily on preserved meat is that it may not always be friendly for sensitive diners. Although the place is set up as a bistro, there are many non alcoholic and non caffeinated beverages on the menu.
Team Glasses Food Score: 4/5. The Balkan is hands down one of the places best enjoyed with a group of friends who are looking to unwind and enjoy great-tasting food, but we think they have some room for improvement with their service to make their patrons’ experience absolutely perfect.