I just waddled back home from my latest discovery: the Bosnian (and Mexican) restaurant Sherher Taverna on Broadway. According to the menu, the name Sheher derives from the Turkish word meaning "heart of the city." "Every major city in Bosnia has its own Sheher and it is identified as a place for shopping, eating, and experiencing the essence of the centuries-old Bosnian hospitality." I'll vouch for that!
Located on the northeast corner of Broadway and Balmoral (5400 north), this unprepossessing place has been there for about two years according to Enes Bajramovic. We talked about the Bosnian community in Chicago and he informed me that this area is home to much of the postwar immigrant community. He also confirmed that this place, run by his family, is the only Bosnian restaurant in this neighborhood. I wasn't entirely clear on the previous function of the place; it sounded from the way Enes explained it that it had previously served as a community club more than a restaurant. The point came where even he--a smoker as is the rest of the Balkan world it seems--decided that the smoke had become too much. So he divided the place into two and revamped the menu. Smoking is now allowed in the other room where he has a satellite for Bosnian television. In the "main" dining room, though, smoking is prohibited!
The room is relatively small--about a dozen tables--but not at all crowded. Not fancy in the least, but quite comfortable. The menu is an eclectic mix of standard American food, Mexican, and Bosnian specialties. There are two Bosnian appetizers: somun with several dips and a Sheher platter for two. The former is a homemade (on the premises according to the family recipe) Bosnian soft grilled flatbread akin to a giant English muffin--a little garlic, a little oregano, lemon, and pepper. It says Parmesan cheese as well, though I couldn't taste it. The somun is served with three separate dips: ajvar (a roasted pepper/vegetable spread), feta, and kajmak (a soft Bosnian cheese, of which more in a moment), all for an exceedingly reasonable $3.99. The platter is designed for two people and it includes Bosnian smoked beef, feta, black olives, provolone, and pickles ($10).
The Bosnian specialties (entrees) are cevapi (chopped, spiced beef, made into little sausages and grilled); raznjici (a marinated and grilled beef shish-ka-bob); a mixed platter (including several grilled items); a schnitzel (breaded veal stuffed with cheese and strips of lean turkey breast). And my choice for lunch: pljeskavica. This is a beef patty about six inches in diameter, nicely spiced with garlic and other seasonings--it reminded me of Romanian mititei, if that helps anyone. Served on a delicious (if monster-sized) somun, the flat bread reminiscent of a soft English muffin (about eight inches in diameter). Included was a small salad of lettuce, tomato, and cucumber plus a portion of rice, some french fries and nice-sized dollop of kajmak, my new favorite cheese. Wow! CAthy2 had a post on it (linked below) so I will limit myself to comparing it to a very soft, curd-less, cottage cheese. VERY rich and creamy, lightly salted. Excellent and, again, homemade, according to Enes's wife's recipe. The entrées run from $7.50 to $11.99.
Beer was called for but Enes explained that he does not have a liquor license. Then, after I had accustomed myself to the idea of doing without, he produced a bottle of Warsteiner, excellent German beer, on the house! I also neglected to mention the complimentary bowl of lentil and vegetable soup served as soon as I sat down.
It was pretty empty when I was there (about 12:30 pm), but I hope that some curious hounds and houndettes will work their way over here. I'd like to see him succeed--who knows, this might be a wonderful place for an evening out with Bosnian specialties without the smoke!
5401 N. Broadway