Ambar is the top-of-mind place when we think of where to eat in Belgrade with guests from abroad. We’ve been there with parties big and small, people we’re close to and business contacts we want to impress. A contemplative solo afternoon drink, with sun slowly setting over the river, or being with a cheerful party at a large table, eating until we’re full and raising glasses and voices to make a toast.
The good old Ambar, which is actually just three years old, pulled it all off!
Recently we talked to Edvina, Ambar’s Events Manager, to try to decipher that special star status of Ambar on the Belgrade’s gastro sky. I arrive for a chat at lunch time and Edvina and Darko, the maitre d’, make sure I’m set and fed a warm consommé, as “it’s a bit windy today, let’s first warm you up with something nice”.
It’s like that every day, every hour. The moment you’re in, there is someone to greet you and make sure you feel like a regular. Not a number.
Ambar, meaning barn in Serbian, serves their inspired interpretation of Balkan cuisine. Belgrade’s restaurant was open after the success of the brand’s flagship in Washington DC.
I recall some fantastic Adriatic shrimps I had at Ambar and a selection of spreads. Edvina breaks it to me that I can’t have those same shrimps, as the menu is often changed, to serve what is best and freshest, what is seasonal and what is invented by chefs who experiment in constant search for new level of excellence.
Okay then, what is it that I should have now, in October 2018?
Traditional hearty dishes with seasonal groceries, that perfectly match autumn.
Shilla pepper- stuffed with cheese and kaymak, kalamata olives jam.
Šumadian prunes – bacon wrapped prunes stuffed with goat cheese. This is the oldest preserved recipe in Serbian history, probably from 14th century from the court of the Emperor Dušan. His nickname was Silni (closest to Tough or Strong) so you get a hint of the intensity of the taste of the epoch.
16-hour slow-cooked veal. With forest mushroom sauce. With homemade gnocchi. What’s there not to like?
Besides the very tastes and the quality of ingredients, there is another feature unique to Ambar. That is Ambar’s signature dining concept of small modern-Balkan plates, served family-style, which encourages sharing and conversation.
Exactly like we like to have it at home, with friends and family! Colorful. Inviting. Dip in. Spread it. Feel free to use fingers. Feed the person next to you or steal a bite from them. Chop it or do not chop it. Do as you wish! No intimidating minimalist large white plates.
Be sure to start with Welcome to Belgrade cocktail. It’s apple rakija, fresh apple juice and cardamom syrup. Yummy! So contextual, as rakija is iconic of Serbia. And not the easiest ingredient to use in cocktails. It required a star mixologist Esteban Ordonez from New York City to craft a cocktail with rakija. Ordonez comes to Ambar Belgrade seasonally to update the cocktail list.
If you have a sweet tooth, the best comes at the end. A Michelin star pastry chef Antonino Maresca, a native of Sorrento in Italy, helped creating the dessert card.
Insider recommendations on desserts include two temptations! Dugo toplo leto/Strawberry Galore is a all-natural strawberry sorbet, marinated strawberries served with a decadent white chocolate and cream cheese cake. Ambar’s Krempita, a most refined version of what is known in Central Europe as cremeschnitte, is a a crispy honey-butter finest puff dough with vanilla cream, finished with a raspberry drizzle.
Every day from 1 pm to 6pm the famous Unlimited menu comes at 40 % off the original price. You can sample unlimited quantities of 70 tastes of Balkans. Think kaymak bar, spreads, cold cuts, starters, soups, salads, vegetables, fish and seafood, meat and poultry, charcoal grilled and slow cooked specialties!
Ladies’ Night: every Thursday ladies get 2 complimentary drinks by the bar. A special band is playing on Ladies’ Nights – trumpet players featuring a DJ! Trumpets are a traditional Serbian festive music.
To enjoy sunsets on river from the Ambar’s terrace be there around 5 in fall, 4 in winter or at 8pm in spring and summer time.
We at Walking Belgrade often drop by when we end our Savamala tour.
Let us know your favorites!