Brews, booze and bites! In no particular order, of course. Your guide to eating, drinking and drinking hot stuff to help deal with the after-effects of the aforementioned drinking. This week we’re in Brcko, the opposite end of the scale to last week’s Dubrovnik.
Brčko has no shortage of cafes, this is Bosnia and Herzegovina after all, but not too many of them stand out in any particular way. The thrillingly-named Coffee Shop Brčko feels as though it should be the premier place in town for a piping hot cup of magic, but it is lacking a certain something that will make it undeniable. That isn’t to say it is bad, far from it, this is still arguably the best place for coffee in town, but I can’t help shake the feeling that it should be the end of the conversation. It isn’t.
Cafe Corso is the best of the cafes on the main square, with a comfortable interior and a vaguely Habsburg feel, while Elti takes the prize when it comes to the main pedestrian drag. Elti was particularly impressive, largely because of how frequently it was recommended and how varied the clientele was. Seriously, when I was there you had everything from over-confident 17-year-olds to all-too-aware 87-year-olds. It was quite the thrill. Good coffee, good breakfast options. The same rule applies to the cafe at Hotel Jelena, which will obviously feature thrice in this here overview of your sustenance options in Brčko.
I’m prone to hyperbole, you sort of have to be to write about travel, so forgive me for the excitement that shall spew forth from thy fingers over the next couple hundreds of words. Brčko is shockingly good for beer, shockingly good I tell you. This is a town known only for being a ‘free city’ whatever that actually means, and it doesn’t even have a tourist information centre (Brčko In Your Pocket, coming soon!). What it lacks in tourist info, it makes up in excellent places for a beer.
First up we’ve got Pub Up, and what it lacks in cheerful staff it makes up in inexpensive and well-poured pivo. Pivnica Silver Wings is great, I had a super good evening here with a jiujitsu brown belt and a trainee priest. Tri Sobe ticks all the boxes too. Laufer is the town’s craft beer, you can get it in a surprisingly large number of places (and you can also visit the brewery, but give them a call in advance). The aforementioned Hotel Jelena is also excellent, and Fičibajer might be good, I just didn’t get there at night. The location is pretty glorious though, and as we all know, location, location, location!
Again, Brčko will surprise you on the putting things into your digestive system front. Wait, what? Anyway, restaurants, lots of options, all of them good. I ate at Marco Polo on my first night and was immediately impressed by how busy it was and how efficient it all seemed to be. With that said, nobody goes to a restaurant because it is busy and efficient, you go to a restaurant because the food is good. The food at Marco Polo? Bloody excellent.
Yes, I’ve mentioned it a couple of times, but Hotel Jelena was really good, particularly when it came to food, no matter the time of day. Actually, come to think of it, the hotel breakfast might actually be the best hotel breakfast in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Yes, I’m going to go with that, no regrets. Elsewhere, I ate some seriously good ćevapi at Palma 2 down by the river, the sort of ćevapi place that doesn’t have wifi, barely has a menu, doesn’t have ice and will cook the meat right in front of you. The best type of ćevapi place, that means.
Just outside the city (well, 7km or so actually) is Bakarni Lonac, a super popular hotel and restaurant that will serve you quite massive portions of grilled meat in a rustic setting with an excellent selection of regional wines. I’m not into wine but I am definitely into grilled meat, so do your own math.
How are you supposed to deal with grief? By immersing yourself in memory? Hitting the bottle? Or by packing your bags and heading out to Bosnia & Herzegovina, travelling the length and breadth of the state in the hope of coming to terms with the tragic death of a loved one? John Bills chose a combination of the two, and ‘A Currency for the Cat’ is the story of that trip. From Mostar to Jajce via Sarajevo, Trebinje and more, Bills dives deep into the history of this famous country on a most personal level, facing his biggest fear in the face all the while. It is available in digital form from www.poshlostbooks.com.