Radost Fina Kuhinjica: The Serbian Restaurant that Almost Made Me a Crazy Dippy Religious Street Preacher
Humans find comfort in many things: a great TV series with characters you can emotionally cling to, a beautiful relationship with someone you could spoon all night even in temperatures exceeding 30 degrees, and, of course, food.
But finding comfort in food whilst travelling can sometimes be a challenge in itself. Sure the excitement of ignorant eating – consuming the mysterious menu items that you can’t even pronounce, let alone identify, can be an adventure. But enjoying a meal with flavours you somewhat recognise and love is beyond comfort, it is bliss. So when my amazing travelling companions sought out a vegetarian eatery in meaty Belgrade, it was a dinner that tasted like it was cooked in heaven itself.
Radost Fina Kuhinjica has a special place in my heart. In a part of the world where vegetables are only seen as a colourful side to a plate packed with dead animals, this beautiful vegetarian restaurant reminded me that fresh hummus can always warm my soul and frozen, blended bananas really can taste like ice-cream.
Be warned, it is a hidden gem. So hidden that it will take some effort to discover. Situated in an apartment block with no obvious signage, finding the restaurant is a challenge in itself. After a few wrong turns and asking directions from a few bartenders, who hadn’t even heard of the restaurant, we finally found the street ,and counted our way down to food heaven. We entered a suspiciously residential-looking apartment building – which didn’t seem to even have a light in the foyer. But I have a keen vegetarian-food eye and immediately recognised the friendly face of the purple vegetarian world-known ‘happy cow’ sticker, smiling from the corner of a door. The girls didn’t believe me when I said I had found it, but when I opened the door we were like the children from the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, entering a whole new world of friendly faces and amazing desserts (minus the human headed horses and subtly religious undertones).
We had made a reservation, which was a very good idea as the restaurant is cozy. Exclusively cozy. There are only about 5 tables and each one was full of happy people eating happy food in a happy place. (Their Facebook page description is ‘Happy Food Restaurant!’ after all).
Overwhelmed by the small, but perfect sounding daily menu, we took advice from the waiter and ordered a variety of dishes, the chef even came out and described the food to us in painfully mouth-watering detail.
First, there were dips. Now considering my last story featured polar bears, dips may seem like a dull thing to write about. But you haven’t really dipped until you have dipped at Radost Fina Kuhinjica. I think God himself blended those dips, and I’m not even religious. Eating these dips is like accidentally attending mass on a Sunday morning, when you need directions and the only place open is the local church. It is an unintentional spiritual experience that will leave you craving more but knowing it will just become a weekly ritual and eventually you will be handing out dips to people on the street preaching verses from your holy dip bible. It is a good thing we only had 5 days in the city because I would have been fast-tracking my way into becoming a crazy dippy religious street preacher.
The sacred dips were followed by mains that included veggie burgers, soup, tacos and wraps and finally concluded with ice cream. I could honestly write about the individual spiritual experiences we each had with our meals but I think it would be easier if you just experienced it for yourself.
It may not be a door to an icy kingdom filled with mythical creatures and talking animals, but it is a door that will lead you to some of the finest food in Belgrade. And if there do happen to be any mythical creatures or talking animals, they will be dining at the table next to you, not on your plate. Radost Fina Kuhinjica is totally vegetarian, but is so tasty even the most meat-loving carnivores will love it.