10890 westheimer rd nr wilcrest
as vast and diverse as houston is, it only has one bosnian restaurant. and as far as i'm concerned that's perfectly okay because the bosnian cuisine is served at cafe pita + is really *that* good enough.
bosnian food is an amalgamation of many regional influences. it is similar to greek and other mediterranean cuisines with their use of pita, feta, and phyllo dough. cafe pita + also serves a meza plate, eggplant dip, hummus, and gyro sandwich. other dishes seem more balkan or eastern european influences such as stuffed cabbage rolls. shish-kebabs and cevapi (similiar to kofta) are more popularly associated with turkish cuisine. much like the cuisines of these regions, bosnian food can be relatively light and healthy with no shortage of flavors.
we started with fried cheese and fried anchovy apps.
|fried cheese from Cafe Pita +|
fried cheese was lightly battered and fried, dense and a tad on the salty side. cafe pita + uses a store-bought ackawi, an arabic style semi-soft cow's milk cheese. it was good enough, but i'd gladly give it up next time to try something different. ajvar, a relish made primarily from red bell peppers, accompanied the fried triangles. ajvar also contains eggplant, garlic and chili pepper and can vary between degrees of sweet and spicy depending on how much heat the red bells and chili peppers have. cafe pita +'s hits more of the sweeter notes.
|girice (fried anchovies) from Cafe Pita +|
these little fried anchovy fishlings were addictive. a squeeze of lemon over the top and i was popping them into my mouth like popcorn. yes, a tad fishy as expected, but not fishy offensive. the dipping sauce is simply avjar with the addition of tabasco sauce. i'd recommend this even to folks who don't like 'chovies. you might surprise yourself.
|sarma (stuffed cabbage) from Cafe Pita +|
sarma was boiled cabbage leaves stuffed with ground beef and rice. it was stewed in a tomato based sauce. the dish came to the table a bit cold. the dish was good but i prefer the romanian version of the dish called sarmale which uses ground pork, sausage, and sometimes even bacon. sarmale is also served with sour cream on the side, just an added bonus in my eyes.
|burek (spinach) from Cafe Pita +|
an order of spinach burek made from phyllo dough, spinach, and feta was huge. the burek was reheated but it was a shame that the pastry arrived soggy. however the flavors were there and i was told that i should ask for it crispy the next time and they will heat it longer. burek can also be ordered with other fillings such as potato, beef, or just cheese.
|cevap on lepinja bread from Cafe Pita +|
the highlight of the meal were the ćevapi or ćevapčići (cici meaning small, sweet, nice in turkish) which is the national dish of serbia. cafe pita's ćevapi are made from ground beef and lamb, baking soda, mineral water, and bread and then formed into little breakfast sausage links. the baking soda gives the sausages a great, spongy texture. after grilling, the meat was still slightly pink inside and tender juicy. the flavor was more delicate than i imagined and truly enjoyable. the lepinja bread which i'd describe as a fluffier english muffin was served toasted.
|cevapi w/ avjar and kaymak from Cafe Pita +|
diced raw onions, ajvar, and kaymak escorted the sausage sandwich to the table. kaymak is a thick cheese spread similar to clotted cream made traditionally from water buffalo milk. the taste is mild yet buttery. i enjoyed the cevapi tremendously with raw onions and kaymak. this is one of those dishes that i feel sorry that vegetarians can't enjoy. this dish will also be one reason why i'll always be a meat-eater.
|pirjan (lamb shank) from Cafe Pita +|
pirjan or lamb shank was served with basmati rice and stewed vegetables including potatoes, zucchini, and eggplant. kaymak reappeared on this plate too which when enjoyed on lepinja makes this a hearty meal for one. unfortunately, five of us all tried get a taste of the tender lamb. it was a modest portion (for one) which left everyone wanting a little more. this dish at $9.99 a plate is a steal. it also ties with two other dishes (beef shish-kebab and meat lovers pizza) as the most expensive items on the menu. as heavy as lamb can be, i was impressed by how light the other flavors and spices were. the natural essence of the vegetables really shined.
postprandial turkish coffee presented in a copper mini pot and baklava followed. the turkish coffee wasn't as strong as i remember, but the baklava was tasty. less sticky sweet than typical greek baklava, cafe pita's is made from walnuts.
cafe pita + serves honest food at amazing prices. our dinner for 5 came out to $15 per person which included a generous tip. a bottle of wine was brought from home and another was purchased at the liquor store next door (where i spotted chilled bottles of moet white star for only $38.99). BYOB, as there is no corkage fee. the ambiance has a bit left to be desired but the friendly and warm service more than makes up for it.
it is authentic, family-owned restaurants like this that we must support to ensure they survive our tough economic times. if you need one more reason to stop by: the #1 food trend of 2008 is recession dining and i think cafe pita + is exactly what they're talking about.