Thursday, August 18, 2016

Lunch at Astal Saren in Novi Sad: Typical Serbian Cuisine – Baked Beans (Prebranac) with Sausage

I found this restaurant on Tripadvisor which is my go-to website for finding good restaurants. You will have to sift through the site though because it does not mean that the number 1 restaurant is the best, nor the top 5. You will have to individually visit their websites, check out the pictures and reviews. I love a good meal but I also like to sit in nice surroundings, so location and interior design do matter a lot for me.

Astal Saren is a small, cosy, unassumming, locally owned and offering traditional Serbian food restaurant. It is also located in the centre of Novi Sad on a small side street.

The restaurant has only a few tables but during the course of my lunch I found out that they have an upper floor. But even if you combine both floors, the restaurant is still small compared to other popular ones in the city. There is no need to reserve because Novi Sad is not a very busy city. There are few tourists here as well. The decoration and atmosphere reminds me of a restaurant run by your favourite aunt or grandmother. It is very snug, country and homey and I like the green colour on the walls.

I was seated near the kitchen where I could easily eavesdrop which order the cook is busy with. When I was there the restaurant was managed by 2 guys, one was in the kitchen and the other was entertaining and serving guests. It was not really that busy for lunch at all. Then a big local family group arrived and I wondered where they will be sitting since there were not enough tables. I saw them going upstairs and this was when I knew that they have an upper floor.

Not really sure what to order, I asked the server for some suggestion on the best local and very traditional food they have that is not heavy at all. He smirked, but in a lighthearted way, "Serbian food is heavy!" He said I can try the salads. But it is not an option for me as I am in a culinary discovery mission here in Serbia. I want a traditional Serbian meal for lunch.

He thought about it for a second, and then said I could try the baked beans, although a little bit on the heavy side, has very little meat in it. He added that its better to eat heavier now for lunch than later for dinner. And I do not have to finish everything as well. He is right somehow...

So I settled for his suggestion, the baked beans (Prebranac) with sausage. This came with a very nice presentation with the dish served in a clay pottery placed on top of a wooden plank. The bread that went with it as a side was warm and very nice as well.

The food tasted very good and reminds me of my Cassoulet lunch in Carcassonne, France a few years ago. This Serbian version however, the Prebranac, was much better than the Cassoulet. Sorry Frenchies to break the news.

This was a very filling meal so I could not wait to walk away the calories and fat in the afternoon.

So here is the verdict: Astal Saren is a great place to eat traditional Serbian food in Novi Sad with a nice and cozy atmosphere.

That's that menu on a chopping board.

Prebranac/Baked beans which is mixed with vegetables such as carrots and onions, and topped with grilled local sausages.

Beans, hmm... be careful of the consequences, the aftermath, haha.

A peek into their small kitchen from the dining area.

Travel Period: March 2016
Destination: Novi Sad (Vojvodina), Serbia

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