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Restaurants & Bars 3

Aroma Cafe: Bosnia comes to Overland Ave.

PayOrPlay | Aug 12, 200407:19 PM

It is not often that this board gets scooped by the LA Times, but apparently this is one of those times. Charles Perry found this family-run Bosnian (!) restaurant across from the Westside Pavilion (in the space where Bali Place used to be) and wrote it up in his 8/11 Counter Intelligence column. Chagrined that I had not noticed this unique new establishment less than a dozen blocks from my house, I headed on over. (I would have gone yesterday but they are closed on Wednesdays.) Apparently it has been open for about 3 months. The sign simply refers to "Mediterranean" food, no hint of the Balkan cuisine inside.

Of course the place was mobbed, and a bit overwhelmed by the attention. Once I got worked through the initial disorganization, the service was friendly and helpful. I ordered a æevapi (beef kebab) and the lukmira (cheese onion dip). The waiter (the owner's son) came back and said they were currently out of the æevapi, although they would make more later, could he substitute a pljeskavica (beef patty) instead, it's the same only with some extra onion? So that's what I got--it arrived looking like a thin oniony burger on a fresh thick white roll, and that's what it tasted like too. No toppings or garnishes at all came with this sandwich, although at another table the plate had a little side serving of white onions with herbs and pepper. Next time I would be sure to order some sort of green salad to go with it.

The lukmira tasted like a cross between sour cream and whipped white cheese, crunchy with green onions and cucumbers, a bit reminiscent of the Persian yogurt dish must o'musir. I scooped this up with more of the good bread. At first I thought it was too oniony and I'd get tired of it after a few bites, but then I found that I was still enjoying it, the different flavors contrasted nicely, and I ended up wiping every speck out of the serving bowl.

At the next table they were enjoying the grilled peppers (which looked good) and a cheese burek (which looked better).

I took home a couple of desserts to try. The waiter had strongly recommended the tufahiya (baked apple) but then had to come back and admit they were out of it. So I got what the menu called "cherry pie" (more like a turnover, with nice flavor if a bit soggy), and a piece of baklava which was excellent, not as dense or as nutty as the versions you'd get at the better Persian and middle-eastern places around the westside, but (as the waiter promised) very moist and aromatic. My bill for the sandwich, cheese dip, 2 desserts, and iced tea was about $14.

There is plenty more to try, including lots of other grilled meats, stuffed cabbage and grape leaves, salads, and soups. They also have a few shelves of goodies from various Eastern European countries to take home, including lots of interesting looking chocolate bars.

To the best of my knowledge this is the only westside restaurant serving cuisine of any former Yugoslavian republic. I'll be back.

Aroma Cafe
2530 Overland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 836-2919

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