Balkan - 8905 Patterson Ave. - www.balkanrichmond.com
Balkan, as the name may reflect, gives credit to the area that is known for this type of food in Southeastern Europe. They use fresh ingredients and heavy spices for a unique flavor explosion. We also happened to have a living social deal (bonus!). In fact, I bought two when they came out, because we already knew we loved the place.
There are the same two servers every time we go, and they always seem to know several of the customers. I do not know if this is because they frequent the restaurant or if this seemingly family-run operation just has a lot of friends in the area.
Back to the food. We chose to start out with the Fried Akkawi Cheese, which we had not tried before. The ajvar sauce in the middle is like a mildly spicy red pepper accompaniment. Very good.
I got the Stuffed Balkan Burger, which I admit I have had before, but it was so good the first time I had to have it again. They make this spice-infused burger patty and stuff it with mozzarella and crushed red pepper. Seriously, how could you go wrong? It also comes served on soft, fresh Lapinja bread, which kid of overwhelms the burger in presentation, like so:
[I promise there’s a burger in there somewhere.]
Tawheed chose something new to him - the Sarma, which are sour cabbage leaves stuffed with beef and rice, and served with lapinja. And spices, of course. I don’t mean spicy as in hot, but spices as in amazing flavor.
As if that weren’t enough, Tawheed had to get dessert. You know, for dating a dental hygienist, this guy definitely has a sweet tooth! Fortunately, they had an impressively guilt-free dessert on the menu, the Tufahija (poached apple). This freshly poached apple was cored and stuffed with a walnut-honey mixture.
We’ll be back.