I've know HVA for almost as long as I learnt to speak English - her brother and my brother were friends, and so when we started Kindergarten together (way back when!), we also started ESL together. Being visible minorities in a different world (we were two of the five, I think - there was a Latin boy, an Indian girl, and a Chinese boy to round out the ESL crew. w00t.), we stuck together. Being that our brothers were also friends helped. Then there was the fact that we were also at the beginning of the Kindergarten roster - it ensured that we sat together on the huge square carpet as well as for classroom activities!
We went through junior high and graduated high school together, then for one reason or another (her mother doesn't have many "favourite" memories of me - I wonder why? lol), we drifted apart.
About two years ago, thanks to the magic of facebook, we got in touch again. At that point, she had just had her first born. Now, that little one is over two years old and HVA is expecting again! Congratulations!
When I was researching something in the Burnaby / New West area that would be suitable for us, Balkan House came up. I remember someone mentioning it at the June Bloggers Dinner - Kim, perhaps? Whoever it was said that it was good value...and being that I just spent a load of (unnecessary) money in Osoyoos on food, booze and wine, I could use value!
Balkan House it was!
The restaurant is set on Edmonds street with a shared parking lot in the back. Aside from the parking lot, there are a couple of side street parking spaces, but it is better to show up later as there are a number of bus stops, businesses, as well as other restaurants around the area, and parking could possibly become hard to find.
I'd read reviews about Balkan House catering to meat-lovers and mostly Serbian customers, but when we went last night, there were at least three tables of "non-Serbians", while the remaining patrons were greeting each other and the waitstaff in (what I perceived to be) Serbian.
The waitress was friendly, but she spoke with an accent, so getting her to explain some of the traditional dishes was a lesson in listening carefully. :) She did answer all our questions, although part of me thinks that if I were to ask her to teach me Serbian, I'd get smacked on the knuckles a lot for getting things wrong. haha!
The waitress started us off with some light bread - the crisp rolls were served with pats of butter and were warm. I guess they wanted to keep the bread light since the meals were so meaty and hearty! HVA and her friend Kris ordered mozza sticks and calamari.
Everyone agreed that the mozza sticks could have had more flavour - they were crispy and chewy, but lacked some spice. The calamari was light and crispy. The sauce accompanying it added a tangy refreshing note.
Each of the entrees were accompanied by salad, rice, and potato. The Greek salad was tasty as always, but I think it could have been fresher. M liked his though!
Next was the star of the show - meat!
As expected, M ordered the Balkan Platter for one - six different meats served with rice and potato! The platter included meat patties (we were guessing veal, pork, and something else?), pork shishkabobs, home made sausage in casing, smoked pork neck, grilled bacon, and cevapcici, a home made sausage. I tried a bit of everything on Ms plate, and I liked the sausage (in casing!) and one of the more flavourful (veal?) meat patties best. I'd order M's dish again.
Kris ordered the Cordon Bleu Veal Schnitzel stuffed with ham and cheese. It looked great, but I didn't get a chance to taste any. You could hear them tenderizing and flattening the veal after we'd ordered - that's what I call fresh!
As for me, I ordered the lamb chops. I haven't had lamb in the *longest* time, so it was about time for me to chow down. (M and I had a bad lamb experience over a year ago). Although it wasn't the best cut of lamb, four lamb chops for just under $16 was not a bad call.
We were glad to find Balkan House - it's close to home and excellent on value - all of us had leftovers to take home. I had my leftovers for lunch! We're sure to visit Balkan House some time soon when the carnivore in us is hungry!
Sidenote: it sure felt WIERD having Kris stare at me when I took my first photos. Then HVA explained that I kept a food blog - then joked that I didn't have a good photo of Kris' plate when he attempted to take a bite. I didn't have a great photo, but was more intent on the company rather than a blog post. :) Till next time...
7530 Edmonds Street [map]