From the moment you enter Kaffana’s dark and woody interior, expect to be fully enveloped in the forceful embrace that is Serbian hospitality.
While owners Peter and Nick Vujik manage the front of house, their mother runs the kitchen, recreating the dishes for which she’s become famous. Mama’s homemade chargrilled bread and potato salad are staples, accompanying heaped platters of meat to the tables.
Other hits include aged steaks, chargrilled quail, cevapcici (skinless sausages) and a smoky, spiced rib dish that can only be eaten with your hands. The food is designed for sharing, served simply on rustic wooden boards.
There’s also a selection of Serbian-style tapas, including sarma – finger-sized cabbage rolls filled with pork, beef and rice and served with tangy natural yoghurt.
The small, circular bar area in the front room has a full drinks list, but the main attraction is slivovitz (plum brandy), Serbia’s national drink. Other flavours of rakia (fruit brandy) are also offered, with fiery infusions of honey, juniper, walnut, apricot, quince and raspberry.
Staff will happily choose for you, but one thing is non-negotiable – you must look your drinking partner in the eye, clink your glasses of slivovitz and loudly proclaim “Živeli!” before knocking back your shot.