Serbia falls into both the Balkan and Mediterranean categories, according to Predrag Vujic, whose family owns Kaffana.
The Serbian restaurant opened on Peel Street in 2014 before relocating to Gilbert Place in October 2017. The Vujics operated a pop-up burger bar in the Peel Street site, but that’s now made way for something more permanent.
A lick of white paint separates the restaurant from its moody, dimly lit past life. Where Kaffana’s loaded-up, meat-sweat-inducing platters take hints from the Balkans, the newly minted Sestra (“sister” in Serbian) leans on lighter-flavoured dishes from the Mediterranean.
You’ll find influences from Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Italy and Spain throughout the menu. Cevapcici (skinless sausages), for example, “has Greek influences … but the Serbs do it better,” Vujic proclaims, with a smirk.
He runs the kitchen with Moroccan chef Anouar Senah. The pair’s “honest”, back-to-basics approach, accented by the charcoal grill, involves letting produce – most of which is local – speak for itself.
The tight, dozen-dish menu is likely to change entirely each season. In summer there’s charcoal-fired Spencer Gulf prawns, chilli mussels from Port Lincoln, saffron chicken slow-cooked with preserved lemon in a tagine, plus a handful of accompanying salads. Produce-dependent specials – including a potato-based Serbian slant on mousakka – coast in and out.
You don’t exist in Adelaide’s best small-bar precinct without absorbing some of the revelry. Sestra’s equipped as a bar as much as it is a restaurant.
Cocktails fly the Serbian flag: there’s pear-flavoured slivovitz (plum brandy) in the Mojito, and chilli-infused vodka with sweet vermouth and peppercorns in the Martini. Wines are approachable and local leaning; every few months a different craft brewer will be on-pour from five taps (it’s Moon Dog Brewery at the moment). Sate your appetite with grazing platters, meze and dips outside kitchen hours.
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