Last year, the famous MICHELIN visited Belgrade for the first time, and soon after 14 restaurants received the title of MICHELIN recommendation.
On that occasion, we visited eight MICHELIN awarded restaurants and talked to the Chefs, owners and managers about what this award means for the restaurant and what are their further plans. We have taken a set of photos of their favorite dishes to show you the secrets of their successful cuisines.
Dusan Todic, the current Executive Chef of the Square Nine Hotel, has extensive international cooking experience, as well as a MICHELIN star experience in the USA. Finally, he’s in Belgrade and working on an ultimate fine-dining concept in one of the most luxurious hot spots in the region.
How would you define the philosophy of THE SQUARE restaurant’s vision of fine dining?
-The Square is a unique restaurant in Belgrade that looks like fine dining as a style of eating but strips away formalities and rules. By doing that, we allow our guests to feel more pleasant, and the time they spend with us more memorable.
What is your vision of fine dining?
-From a Culinary perspective, my vision is to be authentic and have my own voice by using best seasonal and local products and showcasing their uniqueness.
Since you spent a couple of years working in some of the best fine dining restaurants in America, can you compare the fine dining concept here and there?
-It’s all about understanding hospitality and all those details that are going into the guest’s experience that make it quite special.
The answer is that it’s still incomparable yet, but we are working really hard to change that, and I am sure that very soon we will proudly stand next to the most recognizable names in Hospitality Industry.
How has MICHELIN recognition affected your cooking style? Has this affirmation changed your perspective on cooking?
-Reality is that this esteemed recognition actually just confirmed to me that ethos we are led by, and perspective and philosophy of cooking that is driven by seasonality and authenticity are well recognized and respected.
Some details about your future related to a fine dining concept for THE SQUARE?
-During showcase season, even more, we will work closely with small farms and foragers that can bring us incredible local products. With the enormous potential that we have, the focus should be on the right path to grow, be more open-minded, and change some habits we have.
We have a long way to go, but we are not afraid of hard work, and I am sure there is a great future ahead of THE SQUARE Restaurant.
David Šimunić is a graduated architect, timeless artist, and a Chef in a luxurious fine-dining restaurant SALON 1905, with which he received the MICHELIN recommendation for 2022. During our visit, he prepared a surprise for us in the form of a fine dining edition of the local specialty sarma. We had the exclusive testing of the recipe, they are working on for the next season.
About the fine dining and the artistic expression.
Fine dining is a unique experience consisting of several factors that work together to allow the guest to satisfy all the senses. The experience itself begins with entering the restaurant, welcoming, and choosing a table, those are the details of incredible importance. Then the original impression should be enriched and supplemented with top service, starting with the waiter, then the Chef, and even the sommelier. The choice of food and drinks should be intriguing, as well as the interior itself because as said, the term fine dining is a synergy of factors, which complement each other and give a top result. Due to all the above, the epithet of fine dining is not easy to earn, but also to maintain, because perfection is expected in every respect.
The perfection that is implied in the kitchen starts from the idea itself, which must be unique and unusual. The food must be fresh, of good quality, and mostly seasonal. The preparation is done carefully, taking extra care for every step and detail so that the final taste is up to the task. Repetitions, rehearsals, and changes are a regular occurrence so that the chef can fully implement his idea.
What characterizes my kitchen and my cooking style are minimalism, sharp lines, precision, balance in tastes, and even the presentation of the dish itself. As each food has its place an order during the preparation of food, so later it has its place on the plate, so I always put my idea on paper, in the form of a perfect sketch, which leads me to the result. My inspiration certainly comes from my parents’ home, where I was surrounded by works of abstract painting, which are defined by simple geometric shapes that, when arranged on a canvas, give a perfect work of art.
Art of cooking
While attending the School of Architecture, I developed an inherited love for creating perfect drawings and projects. In that process, I loved everything, starting with the preparation of the accessories for drawing, cleaning, sharpening pencils, and preparing the space. Drawing alone would sometimes take nights to achieve an elegant and precise project. Any mistake whose removal or correction would make a mark would mean that it is necessary to start from the beginning because there is no room for imperfections in this science. Something similar happens in the kitchen when I work on creating a new dish or the entire menu. As in architecture, so here, it is necessary to respect and in no way diminish any of the steps that make up creation. From the preparation of food, utensils, cooking time, and quantity, all the way to serving, which looks most reminiscent of my projects from this period. And that is neatness, simple composition of elements, and harmony of colors.
In my beginnings, the MICHELIN Guide was almost a parallel universe, which seemed rather unattainable, but was the dream of every ambitious Chef. That is why I see his arrival, as well as writing the names of our restaurants on his pages, as a success for our country, then the entire gastronomic scene, and finally as a success for my team and me. What the MICHELIN Guide brought was great motivation, as well as the inspiration that is currently leading me and my team to create new ideas. We are allowed to go beyond the existing framework and create unique rhapsodies of taste that will present the restaurant in the best light, and make us proud. Of course, this also means the arrival of a multitude of gastro tourists who aspire to visit MICHELIN restaurants and get to know the tastes of our climate. We are facing a great challenge, but also an unusual pleasure that we are part of writing the gastronomic history of Serbia.
NEW SEASON IS HERE
The arrival of spring is a burst of energy and motivation and a good mood. This period is characterized by enthusiasm as well as new beginnings that take place in us and around us, so going to the market is inspiring, with all the food that this period of the year brings. Suddenly, there are scents and colors of characteristic products for our climate that become an indispensable detail in the preparation of the spring menu. So we can conclude that the content of the new menu will be just like that, lively, colorful, with characteristic aromas and flavors. Certainly, what I always strive for is to revive our tradition differently, as was the case with the sarma you tasted. We stay true to the recipes of our mothers and grandmothers, with hints of innovation reflected in spices, unusual additions, and a somewhat unusual presentation.
COMUNALE CAFFE E CUCINA
A classy “New York-style” bar & restaurant Comunale Cafe e Cucina, located in a popular tourist area near the Sava river, is selected for the 2022 MICHELIN Guide with 13 other restaurants. The fusion of fresh Mediterranean cuisine and a modern interior, as well as a great location near the river, is promising for a great fun 24/7
How would you define the philosophy of the COMUNALE restaurant?
Comunale Caffé e Cucina’s philosophy is embedded in our slogan – A place to eat. To experience. To enjoy. We combine modern with traditional, authentical, and our offer reflects our guiding motto that in Comunale, anyone can find something he or she likes.
As you probably know, Comunale Caffé e Cucina is one of the first restaurants that sparked the transformation of the abandoned and forgotten storage in Beton Hala to a now-famous and unavoidable Belgrade dining spot and tourist landmark alongside River Sava. We have been proudly serving our dear guests since 2010, offering the best in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine in combination with the finest from Josper grill accompanied by a unique bar offer and meticulously selected wine card. We are proud to serve honest food with just a slight creative twist and flair.
How has MICHELIN’S recognition affected cooking style in COMUNALE? Has this affirmation changed the restaurant’s perspective on cooking?
Our cooking style has been set in 2010 when we started serving our guests. And MICHELIN recognition is just a confirmation and validation that we are doing it right. We are proud that MICHELIN recognized our style and our authenticity, and through this recognition, we got a stamp of approval for the quality we have been daily delivering to our guests for 12 years in a row. Our perspective is to maintain this high level of quality, but also to enrich our offer with innovative ideas in meals and ambiance.
What is your secret ingredient for success?
It would have been easy to just have that one secret ingredient that makes all the difference. But, there is no such thing. It is always a combination of so many little and big things. Our secret is within our team, in our heads and hearts, and dedication each one of us delivers every single day. That is what makes a difference for our guests. Perhaps one thing that sets us apart from others is our homemade pasta. It is really difficult today to create a good pasta dish and maintain it on the same level of quality throughout the years. That is equal to creating a fine dining meal. Maybe that is one of our secret ingredients.
Tell us some interesting details about your future work plans when it comes to the new menu?
We will continue with our style and with our philosophy as apparently, we are doing it right. We will focus more on seasonal ingredients so that we can get the most out of them and at the same time surprise our guests with innovations they expect from us. So stay tuned and come to Comunale to eat, enjoy, and experience.
More than a decade led by an eclectic duo Filip Ciric & Vlastimir Puhalo, with a real passion and a long-standing success!
Homa restaurant is ready for its next step!
The philosophy of HOMA restaurant & the vision of fine dining?
There is no “our philosophy”! For us, something like that has always sounded pretentious… We have been working and creating out of love all these years, and we are trying to add some new added value to the city and the environment in which we live and offer something new, innovative, and different… We do not feel that we are in the food industry, but in the industry of improving the quality of life, at least for a few hours daily.
MICHELIN & HOMA
Entering the MICHELIN guide gave us the confirmation that we are on the right path, although it often seemed that we were stepping into the wind…
The secret ingredient for success?
There is no secret ingredient. There is only our desire for change, as well as to change ourselves in that process of creation that we love immensely.
Future work plans
Our plan is to get a MICHELIN Star this year!
Misa Relic, a founder and visionary of Enso, a fine-dining restaurant, has a reason to celebrate all his success. In expecting a new MICHELIN visit, he proudly presents his spring menu, pure funky jazz rolled in a French way, with a touch of many other cuisines.
Nedeljko Jerkovic, ENSO Chef, make it all possible.
In the following lines, we are unveiling a vision of Enso with Misa Relic.
How would you define the philosophy of the ENSO restaurant?
Many Chefs like to write stories about their dishes, adding 10 different ingredients. But in the end, your palate never recognizes more than just a few. My main idea when I discuss with my chefs is always: if you put something on the plate, I have to feel that. I can tell, that my understanding of the arts and being a musician helps me understand my Chefs being so different. I look at them the way a music producer looks at a musician in a studio. What we come up with in the end is pure art. My Chefs are free to experiment every day, again and again. So our food is like jazz, cause we do not have the pressure of making commercial food, and we have the liberty to improvise. We try that every new dish opens a new horizon for our guests. So, when you come to Enso expect the unexpected, be free, and try different things open-minded.
How has MICHELIN recognition affected your cooking style? Has this affirmation changed ENSO’s perspective on cooking?
We have been waiting for this MICHELIN sign since day one of Enso restaurant. MICHELIN Star was and still is our goal. So you can imagine that becoming a MICHELIN recommended restaurant gave us a confirmation that we are on the right path and made us all work harder than ever, exploring, experimenting, and creating new dishes. But, also looking for additional ways to improve our service, the ambient, and the whole experience. In hospitality, you can never sit back and enjoy. Constant progress is a must. It is exhausting but thrilling at the same time. And that is why I love this hob and its dynamics.
The new menu will be a step up in every possible way, and we can’t wait to present it.
How would you describe a long journey that you spent in hospitality?
I would describe it as my life journey.
When I started the live music club 21 years ago, I never thought it would go this far. 21 years later, I am still here and leading both of my teams, Bitef Art Cafe and restaurant Enso, to the stars. Do you see what I did there? :p
It all started with the idea to have a decent place to go out during a really bad period for our country. It continued to evolve into a legendary music club, bringing some serious names from the industry to Belgrade. Then, we changed our address, which allowed me to create a place I always dreamed of. And this club-restaurant combo is just that. My dream came true!
But, there was no help of a magic wand. We did it all ourselves. A very small team, might I add. This job is hard. You have to be on top of your game every second of it. MICHELIN makes it more complicated and demanding, but hey! I always aimed high and never wanted to make lots of money by playing in a 3rd league. That was never my style. MICHELIN is like the Champions League, and that’s the place where I want to play.
Would you uncover for us exclusively some of your plans related to ENSO?
Our new menu will be like a free jazz album with an ethnic twist and slick funky groove that will launch the palate and mind of our guests beyond the borders.
Guillaume Iskandar, four times in a row MICHELIN star awarded Chef. A great food connoisseur, today in Langouste, creates magic on a plate, subtly combining flavors, experience, and knowledge.
Every day, when I make a new dish and offer it to our guests, I feel like I’m on stage. Watching their faces, and satisfaction is the best recognition to be proud of being part of the Langouste team.
I feel Belgrade is my second home! I realized the importance of listening carefully and adapting fast to my guest’s needs from season to season. My whole team always stays humble and listens.
I have to say, I admire them because they can adapt to any request and stressful situation, and they are motivated to learn and improve their skills, talents, and their knowledge.
Teamwork is the key to success!
Cooking in line with the season is what we do, and inspiration comes from our daily life and experience.
It’s important to observe and follow the works of great Chefs worldwide, and some colleagues that I respect, what they do in their kitchen, and new trends… But, I am always staying authentic and recognizable. We have our philosophy and our paths in Langouste.
Most of our guests are people who travel all around the world and visit all great restaurants. They love to know what we put on their plates and where it comes from. Seasonality, sustainability, and environmental issues are becoming the most important criteria for us when it comes to designing our daily menus.
At Langouste, we source as much of our ingredients as possible from small local suppliers. For example, Alex, our gardener takes care of Langouste’s garden with all kinds of fruits and vegetables, so we could give only the best to our guests.
Every award is a great achievement of our teamwork. Every time we get recognition, that makes us very proud and motivated. MICHELIN Guide Recommendation is a special award because it comes from people in our industry.
MICHELIN Guide has to be constantly up to date, so every day, we need to provide our guests with a star–level experience even if we haven’t got the Star. Consistency is more important than perfection, but we always aspire to strive for our ideal of perfection.
A young but certainly experienced Chef, Milorad- Mica Bozic earned a MICHELIN Recommendation for 2022, with LEGAT 1903.
Milorad is very passionate about his work in the kitchen and a highly motivated to keep everything in line with perfection.
Restaurant Legat 1903 was opened as a gathering place for true connoisseurs and lovers of food and wines, who truly enjoy the exclusive cuisine, as well as an unforgettable gastronomic experience. We are a fine-dining concept that represents high-quality food, freshly stored in the best possible way. We are very proud of our wine cart and the complete service of full enjoyment that we offer to our guests.
It is a great honor to be among the 14 restaurants that received this significant MICHELIN’S recognition. This beloved award is a great confirmation that we are going in the right direction, but it’s also a great responsibility to justify the trust of our guests and progress day by day. Quality is one of our most important values, and we do not intend to go a little below our standard. We are motivated to be even better and to shape our identity with a great selection of food paired with top wines in our beautiful restaurant.
My approach to cooking is based on the fact that dishes are much more than just a sum of ingredients. Besides the highest quality food, it is necessary to invest in knowledge, time, and patience every time you are in the kitchen. I love that mix of modern cuisine with the addition of the traditional. It’s always exciting to work on a process of combining the flavors and the ingredients, and waiting for the final touch. Our small team of professionals complements the whole concept.