An entrepreneur who follows his dreams, not trends!
Belgrade is an exciting and dynamic city when it comes to nightlife and the dining scene. We wanted to hear the story of a club owner, who has been managing Bitefartcafe successfully for 17 years, and has opened one of the most talked about and exclusive restaurants in Belgrade, Enso, two years ago.
Anew trend of so-called gastronomic bars, where you can enjoy dinner and listen to live music has conquered Belgrade. Is that the concept you call 2in1?
The concept of 2in1, when it comes to Bitefartcafe club and Enso restaurant is something completely different. The trend of gastronomic bars with live music comes from abroad, but I have to be honest, I have never liked this combination. Either one or the other element, the music or the food, always suffers. Imagine hearing your favorite song, but your mouth is full and you cannot sing along, or the tables are too big, because you have to put big plates on it and so there is not enough space to dance. Or you want to enjoy your dinner, talking to your friends, but the music is too loud, or someone is jumping beside you. That was too much of a compromise for me, and I had a different idea how to combine these two passions of mine.
So, could you explain how the 2in1 concept works for Bitefartcafe and Enso?
Enso and Bitefartcafe are located in the same building, but they share a soundproofed wall. The idea is to indulge in food separately and after that listen to live music by making just a few steps. Enso is a restaurant of fine and modern cuisine, where food is meant to be slow, enjoyed with ease and every bit of its combination of flavors is meant to be carefully savored.
Our 2in1 are in fact one complete night-out experience. Dinner in the warm atmosphere of the Enso restaurant, where you can enjoy the conversation with your friends, and then transit to Bitefartcafe, a club that has many years of live music tradition with most enjoyable performances, perfect ventilation and superb sound, where you can dance the rest of the night away. Thus, the “secret door” was created to connect the restaurant and the club.
How did you decide on a bold move to open a modern cuisine restaurant, instead of, for example, following the trend of gastronomic bars?
I’ve never been comfortable with following trends and I’ve always tried to get into projects I personally believe in. When it comes to food, I believe the success of a restaurant is in the story behind the scenes. I believe that the creation begins long before the recipe. It begins with a chef with a vision and with a host who does it out of love, making the guests feel at home.
I came across two of the best chefs in Serbia, Uroš Ivošević and Nedeljko Jerković, in whose talents and visions I believed, and so my story about the restaurant of modern cuisine started.
Every ingredient and meal are treated with respect, and the creation of the original recipe is a process that lasts for months. Every six months, the menu changes, and original recipes with seasonal fresh food are created. It is a constant exploration, experimentation, and the boundaries are being shifted. The whole concept of modern cuisine had me at the start and is closest to my philosophy, gastronomic and life wise.
How did you approach the restaurant scene in Belgrade?
We had the challenge of presenting our restaurant to people and food lovers. The concept of fine dining in Serbia is an association to small portions, and people are scared they are going to leave hungry. However, many people were not aware that fine dining restaurants serve small portions exclusively when they are a part of a tasting menu, which usually consists of 5 or 7 courses. At Enso restaurant you can order a tasting menu of 5, 7 or 10 courses and I always say, if after 7 courses you can eat more – it’s on the house`s bill!
How does location affect your business?
If the restaurant is really good, it does not matter where it’s located. The recommendation is still the best marketing tool and considering that the guests leave the restaurant satisfied. People are coming to Enso to taste amazing food in our little, cozy restaurant. On the other hand, Bitefartcafe has been one of the leading live music clubs in the city for 17 years now and the audience will not leave the club until the band announces the last song. I understand that the trend is the so-called clubbing from club to club, but we are not a place for that. Our clientele are people who really want to go out, dance and have a good time in a relaxed, undisturbed and cheerful atmosphere.