As it usually happens, on the tourist map of the city of Belgrade, pubs occupy an almost central place, and a new article in the Guardian confirms this.
Investigative journalism in its best and “hardest” form, where the Guardian journalist was forced to eat and drink and party in Belgrade bars in order not to write a report and spread the news around the world. In the text “People dancing on tables: welcome to Belgrade’s pub culture”, they tried to describe an institution such as a pub in words.
They explained that the tavern is a tavern, a restaurant, a pub and a music venue that operates from morning until late at night. Regular guests come here for breakfast before work, families organize weddings and celebrations, jobs are interrupted, and sadness drowns in dark corners. They were so ubiquitous in people’s daily lives that friends or the postman would come to find you at your local pub rather than your home.
“Unfortunately, many traditional pubs closed in the 2000s, partly due to their reluctance to prioritize making a profit over letting regular people sit at one table all day,” says Britain’s Guardian.
Breakfast started at the Question Mark:
“Question Mark”, began its life in the 16th century as an Ottoman tavern. A cozy wood-paneled restaurant in a low building with lintels, located opposite one of the oldest churches in Belgrade. Patrons got in trouble for calling it a “bar next to the church,” so they stuck a “?” as the name and never bothered to rename it. Seated at low sofra tables, they serve Turkish coffee roasted on a barbecue, accompanied by heated brandy – supposedly the key to Balkan longevity. This is followed by omelets and cheese pies, fried dough sticks and smoked meats. The Ottoman style of this tavern is just one of the many influences found in the diverse streetscape of Belgrade, where east meets west.”
About the fragility of culture and East and West, the journalist also writes while observing the music in the taverns, where those with rich Balkan cuisine and noisy gypsy trumpet bands are facing east. Others are in the Austro-Hungarian style, where dishes like goulash are served, accompanied by strings and accordions that set the mood.
“Skadarlija is a cobbled street that used to be the bohemian quarter of the city. Here, taverns were home to poets, artists and singers, who drew inspiration from the lively characters they encountered. One of the more legendary was the singer of the restaurant “Dva Jelena” Toma Zdravković. Grainy videos from the 1980s show him wandering from table to table shrouded in smoke stalking fans. Now he is cast in bronze like a statue in Skadarlija, and people lay flowers and cigarettes at his feet.”
He continued on to a Serbian tavern where he praised kebabs and grilled dishes, soaked in cream, served by elderly waiters in timeless white shirts and black vests.
“Serbian cuisine is meat-centric, but vegetarian options such as roasted sauerkraut, roasted peppers and delicious soups are available. Dessert is a mix of Bosnian, Turkish and Central European: cakes filled with walnuts and dipped in syrup, baked apples,” the journalist said and boasted that he had heard anecdotes about the actors, where he proudly boasted about Zoran Radmilović, whom he called the Serbian version of Terry Jones. .
And then the pub tour turned into pub clubbing, first with the SFRJ pub, and then with the BAM pub.
“In SFRJ, a Yugoslav restaurant full of props with a view of the Danube River, we have a beer and look at the twinkling lights of the city.” It is disturbing to be surrounded by Tito’s symbols given the violent end of Yugoslavia and the brutal role played by Slobodan Milošević’s Serbian paramilitary formations. Serbia has never fully come to terms with this dark past, and the same sentiment that glorifies war criminals today is transformed into pro-Russian sentiments among more than half of the population. But here the stage is shaking in the corner, musicians are playing Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian folk songs, as well as Yugoslav hits from the 70s. The music evokes great emotion in the elderly locals: hands sway in the air, and eyes start to sparkle after a few strong drinks.
The band finishes around midnight, but I want the party to continue, so they head to one of the newer “turbofolk taverns” BAM Club. Traditionalists are snobbish about places like this, but to me this just shows how the bar continues to develop and captures the essence of Belgrade’s nightlife, which combines hedonism and nostalgia. I descend into the crowded basement where local legend Paganini is playing: a Roma musician with an electric violin. People shower the band with cash, an act of swagger, but in the spirit of fun. High energy turbo folk beats keep me dancing until the wee hours. The only possible remedy the next day is brandy for breakfast.’