Best European Food in Grand Rapids!
Though I’ve been reviewing restaurants for “tripadvisor.com” for several years, until today, it never occurred to me that maybe I should include a restaurant review in my blog. But, today, Alice and I had one of the best meals we’ve ever shared at Al Bos Eurocafe & Bakery at the SE corner of Shaffer and 29th Street in GR. We had eaten here about a year ago and were blown away then, this time even more so. Maybe we were hungrier today!
Alice ordered a glass of Boving 2009 Merlot from Macedonia. How often do you get a nine year old wine from one of the Balkans’ finest wineries for $7? The wine is superb! I had a bottle of Karlovacko Pilsner from Croatia last trip and a bottle of beer from Macedonia this trip. As soon as the smell hits your nose and the beer hits your palate, it is obvious why this area has been a world leader in Pilsner beer for several centuries. It reminded me of a time when Alice and I were sharing a bottle of wine with a Bosnian friend. Thinking that I’m paying the wine a compliment, I remarked that it was as good as any French Grand Cru. He shrugged and sort of dismissed my comment with, “yes, we were making wines like this back when the French were still living in caves”. In the US, we forget just how much older the cultures of Eastern Europe and the Balkans are compared to Western Europe.
We ordered Burek with Beef (homemade phyllo dough filled with aromatic ground beef and sautéed onion). This is a must have if you visit this restaurant. Alice also ordered the Bean Soup – Grah (white beans in a rich well seasoned brown broth served with a sausage and house bread). Last trip, she ordered the Chicken Noodle Soup; also superb.
Next, we split an order of Sarma (two sour cabbage rolls served with mashed potato in a beautifully flavored rust brown stock). Though distinctly different from the Polish style stuffed cabbage served at Stanz in Grand Haven, another of our very very favorites, the Balkan style is as good as it gets!
The menu is very extensive and all homemade. Owner, Akija Hoxha, runs a tight ship. The place is immaculately clean, service is good and the food second to none. I’m sure there isn’t a bad dish in the house, but, we tend to judge an Eastern European restaurant by its soups, comfort foods and breads. By the way, the “regular” house bread slathered with soft butter is phenomenal too. It has just the right balance of yeast, salt and wheat flavors to make it impossible not to wolf down the entire plate before you even get your soup or appetizer.
The prices are very reasonable. So much so, that it might be not only the best food in GR, but probably the best buy too. We love this place!
Next door, their deli is well stocked with all sorts of Balkan delicacies including their house bread.
Enjoy in Good Health! Brian Cain, the Michigan Vintner