21 Grams – The hidden Balkan Cafe

When they talk about hidden gems I never thought it would be that hard to find the entry to this Balkan Cafe. I got dropped off by taxi and walked passed the hotel entrance assuming the cafe had it’s own entrance only to not find one and walk back inside the hotel to then find the entrance to the right as i entered. Oops. Lucky I was early so my friend didn’t witness my clumsiness.

Located inside the Park Regis Boutique this cute & cozy cafe serves up some of the best coffee I’ve had in Dubai. So good I was tempted to order another one immediately but it was already 8pm and I didn’t want to hinder my chance of sleeping that eve.

I was there to try a new set menu they had introduced with my friend. The 4 course set menu had a few options for each and we alternated between each so we could maximize our tasting experience.

The spanakopita salad was an usual spin with the crispy phyllo pastry adding that extra crunch.

The stuffed vine leaves with minced beef served on a bed of mash potato and a dollop of yoghurt was apart of the second course and was my preference over the Istrian fusi; a hand-rolled pasta dish complete with mixed mushrooms and aged cheese.

By the time the mains arrive I’m already getting full but push through as I’m eager to try some meat. The lamb shank is off the bone and the tender meat is atop some purple cabbage and garnished with herbs. The marination is subtle and I don’t notice the horseradish sauce. The other main, Pljeskavica which is the national dish of Serbia, is a mince wagyu beef patty stuffed with bacon and cheese and served on top of a flatbread which has a chopped tomato sauce. An interesting dish but I wasn’t quite sure on how to eat it. Was I suppose to make a wrap or eat each item separately?

Last but not least the desserts. We tried the Krem Pita and Tufahija. The former make use of that phyllo pastry again with layers of it between soft cream cheese and topped with berries and fruit sauce. The latter was walnut stuffed poached pears served with a vanilla sauce.

Overall it was an interesting tasting menu though I’m more inclined to come back for their delicious coffee and to try their burek. Especially if I wanted a quiet cafe to get some work done without any interruptions.

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