Sunday, November 1, 2009

Café Bosna

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Café Bosna
5751 Old Hickory Blvd.

Schnitzel is popping in the pan and Sevala Kulovic is quietly pulling together a hearty lunch. She moves about her simple open kitchen in plain view of the dining room. The experience is low key, warm and relaxing; kind of like having grandma cooking for you. Sevala greets you with a big smile and an energetic recitation of the specials, and then she’s off to cook. You may remember the Bosnian immigrant chef from her previous restaurant, Sevala’s Café, across from the State Capitol downtown (Sevala’s is still there, with a different chef). She moved to Washington State for family reasons and then back to Tennessee. Café Bosna has been open in Hermitage, near Summit Medical Center, since January.

Café Bosna is just a little bigger than her old joint: eight tables and the kitchen crowded into the same room. While Sevala is trying to branch out a bit with music on the weekends, movies and even cultural presentations on Bosnia, food is still the star attraction. The menu ranges from simple breakfast (omelets, pancakes), served anytime of the day, into lunch and dinner. Soups, sandwiches, and salads dominate the regular menu, with little European touches here and there: a Polish sausage plate, Bosnian Chevapi (the minced meat dish is a national specialty) and pastas: Alfredo, portobello mushroom ravioli and veal and sage ravioli. The specials menu is where the big guns come out. On this day Sevala offers goulash, well loved from her previous café, stuffed grape leaves and, in a move to make the Veggie Eater smile, there is a vegetarian special listed as such in bold type: bean and truffle oil salad served in a whole wheat tortilla.

Vienna Schnitzel arrives in a big bowl. Three large, golden cutlets are placed on top of the sides, which for this plate include mashed potatoes, linguine, salad and pita. It’s a small mountain of food and yet each taste remains distinct, despite being in the same bowl. And let’s face it: Schnitzel was made to go with some type of noodle. Sevala lets you choose a sauce to accompany a variety of pastas for the side dish. Creamy mushroom and green onion can come in a brown or white sauce. Bacon asparagus and marinara are also options. Customizing your food is not unusual at Café Bosna. We can hear the chef speaking on the phone to a regular. She goes through the soup line-up for the day, at the end of which she reports “we can cook-up whatever you want.” Of course that only works if the food is top notch. The Vienna Schnitzel has a light breading, tender cutlets and great flavor. The mashed potatoes are tasty and well seasoned. The Linguine is cooked just right and the silky sauce a nice accompaniment to everything else on the plate. It’s one heck of a lunch, probably better suited in portion size for dinner. Even the little salad sports fresh greens, olives, and a zingy lemon yogurt dressing. The pitas that threaten to tip off the sides of the bowl are toasted and lightly brushed with olive oil.

Veggie Eater: This is a real gem. I am sad that I no longer work in the immediate area, as I would have patronized it often during lunch time. As Meat Eater stated, everything really is made to order, so quite a few of the menu items could easily made veggie friendly. There are several dedicated veggie items (ginger veggie omelet, veggie and cheese sandwich, veggie delight), but most importantly, Sevala always offers a Vegetarian special item daily. Today, my good fortune was the bean and truffle oil salad. It consists of marinated kidney and pinto beans, broccoli, generous portions of diced avocado which is used to thicken the salad, celery, small chunks of tomato, all tossed in truffle oil. This is then housed in a whole wheat wrap and nestled atop mesclun greens and dusted with parmesan; a really inventive, great veggie lunch item. I asked Sevala about the daily veggie specials and she stated her Bosnian spinach pie is a sensational hit; it generally sells out at lunchtime on the day it is offered. She took my name and number to call me the next time it is offered. Her philosophy also includes, “There is always enough room for dessert!” We were stuffed from our meals and tend not to be dessert people, but she insisted we try today’s creation; it was some sort of pound cakey thing rolled around a strawberry cream filling and topped with chocolate sauce. I have no idea what it’s formally named, but it was damn good. Oh, and the dessert sample (appeared to be a regular portion), was free. Café Bosna is definitely a do-over. Plenty of food for left-overs. She was lamenting that business remains a bit slow, so I would encourage everyone to make it their personal mission to partake in Sevala’s hospitality.

Meat Eater: The Bosnian burger and the Jaeger schnitzel may have to be priorities on our next visit. Although that goulash is supposed to be pretty darn good. I can’t tell you how much a warm hostess/chef, great food and a leisurely lunch can perk up a gloomy weekday. I would imagine dinner and live music would be a fun way to experience Café Bosna as well. We paid $30 with tax and tip for two entrees. As mentioned though, that Schnitzel was really more of a dinner and you could easily do lunch on a more modest budget.Cafe Bosna on Urbanspoon


EdKing said...

Your review is SPOT ON. This is some of the BEST home cooking I've ever had.

Eric and Katie said...

Thanks Ed...yes, it's a nice break from the hustle and bustle and the food is truly comforting.

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of two meals during my week-long vacation in Tennesee. I ordered the cream of asparagus, and it was delicious. The pita is fresh-baked and I would've been just fine with soup and bread. awesome. Also had the goulash (which I couldn't finish in one sitting), great for my 'afternoon breakfast'. Will go there again, the next time I'm in TN. Very pleasant staff, and the chef .... superb.

Rebecca said...

Just had the Spinach pie...with cucumber salad..and received a sample of the Baklava for free..... amazing homemade food. Looking forward to trying all of her entrees, especially the vegetarian fare. Will recommend to all my Foodie Friends...........