While exploring the rich gastronomic scene of the Serbian capital, you must visit one place that is worth a detour.
This is how the head chef Aleksandar Milovanović describes the 369 restaurant. A food lover who has been all around the world, driven by his passion for cooking, now uses his abundant experience accumulated during almost two decades of working worldwide to create the menu of this lovely restaurant in Novi Beograd where even ‘ordinary’ dishes have unusual names and tell their own authentic stories.
How did restaurant 369 get its name? Where does the idea come from and what symbolism does its name carry?
The restaurant’s name is derived from the symbolism behind the numbers 3, 6 and 9, which the genius Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla believed to be the basis of everything and represent the key to the universe. Following the example of the famous inventor who sought harmony and balance in everything, we also constantly strive for balance – between foods that complement each other perfectly and create a unique symphony of flavours in one dish and between nutrients that contribute to a flawlessly balanced nutritional value of a meal, in addition to all other details, which feed not only our guests’ bellies but also their soul and all the senses.
“The restaurant’s name is derived from the symbolism behind the numbers 3, 6 and 9, which the genius Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla believed to be the basis of everything”
Our goal is for our guests to enjoy not only the food but also to have a complete experience – the way food is served and presented, the scents and colours on the plate, as well as the pleasant ambience in which everyone feels welcome. The principles we are guided by in our work, inspired by Tesla’s vision and courage, are also the postulates on which the business of the corporation behind the restaurant is based. I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to be part of a renowned group that is successful in various segments of business and work under the auspices of a business philosophy that I respect and adhere to. The idea for the restaurant’s name came about the Group’s corporate vision and mission.
The restaurant’s menu is inspired by dishes from all over the world. Where do you get the ingredients that are not from this part of the world? What made you decide to include such dishes in the menu?
I am lucky to work in a restaurant that is part of a large and successful corporation, whose president and top management are very understanding of my ideas and innovations. Thanks to that, my team and I are given space for unlimited creativity and we always have everything we need at our disposal, including the ingredients from all over the world. Regardless of the origin, our absolute imperative is to have top-notch individual ingredients. Every time you open the menu, you will feel like you are opening the covers of an exciting book or guide for a trip around the world because all our dishes have special and unusual names that tell a story. Since November, we have had a new, expanded menu, the fourth in a row since the restaurant opened. Although the dishes change every season, we have evergreen favourites that we always use. The principle here remains unchanged – our methods are different and even ‘ordinary’ ingredients are prepared in a special way.
Who is your target group? Who are the typical guests of the 369 restaurant?
Although our guests are mostly business people, members of the diplomatic corps and the business community, cosmopolitan people and world travellers who can compare our specialities with those they ate in the most exotic parts of the planet, the menu always leaves room for guests of all generations, tastes and abilities. Our goal is to provide the best possible service at all times and to remain a favourite place for socializing and enjoying food to as many people as possible. From dishes common to our part of the world, all the way to the most challenging culinary exhibitions, we want to educate visitors, apply global standards and always go a step further.
Tell us a bit more about your journey to becoming the head chef of the 369 restaurant. When did you decide that this profession was the one for you?
My journey to this point was complex and eclectic – just like my approach to food. I deserve to have a place on the gastronomic map because I worked hard and sacrificed a lot, but I don’t regret any of it because I enjoyed every moment and I would do it all over again. At the initial stages of my journey, I washed the dishes in the basement of a Parisian bar and this is where my ascent started. From the very beginning, I had a clear vision, and I was driven by a huge love and passion for cooking. That remains the same to this day.
“Regardless of the origin, our absolute imperative is to have top-notch individual ingredients and there is no compromise in that”
I still dream and live food. Each plate is my ID card, my way of communicating with people without uttering a single word. After France and Spain, I worked on a ship for five years, touring the world’s most important destinations, getting to know different cultures and absorbing their energy and vibrations. I believe that a part of all those gastro adventures can still be felt on every plate that comes out of my kitchen.
Which dishes are the most popular and which ones are your personal favourite?
It is not easy to pick the most popular dishes, bearing in mind that various kinds of guests come to 369 and that we are constantly, fortunately, and very successfully, trying to satisfy their sometimes diametrically different tastes. However, I would like to single out steak tartare 369 as one of the dishes that our visitors order most often. My favourite would be turnedo alla acke, a wonderful piece of aged beef fillet, served with spinach puree, potato pave, chanterelle and duck liver. Of the “simpler” dishes, I would recommend our famous popara – the perfect proof that, with the right approach to preparing and serving food, even ordinary, everyday dishes of our grandmothers can be enjoyed as the most exotic delicacies of 21st-century cuisine.
A day you miss out on never comes back so let’s make sure that we live our best days. Hence my next question. What sets you apart from other restaurants? What are you best at?
What sets us apart is our approach towards ingredients we use – from careful selection, through the preparation method, all the way to serving. If you order pizza in our restaurant, a dish that is everywhere and available in every restaurant and fast food joint, you can be sure that it contains the highest quality ham. You can enjoy our food without feeling guilty because every ingredient is chosen with style. Bread and pasta are homemade, from the best ingredients.
We strive to maintain an ideal balance when it comes to guests, prices and ingredients in order to reconcile different tastes, possibilities and expectations. We never deviate from one thing – the top-notch standards. We believe that we are the best in creating that balance and that we have patented a formula thanks to which enjoying a meal goes beyond the sense of taste and rises to the level of visual and conceptual art. 369 has this unique atmosphere that turns food consumption into a comprehensive experience. We are also unique in that everything is possible with us. The only thing that is impossible for our guests to hear is the word “impossible” or “we can’t do it, it does not exist”.
Offer for businesspeople
Food brings people together and that is more important today than ever before, especially in the business community. Do you have special offers for corporate events?
No matter how much modern technologies, as well as current circumstances, have displaced a huge segment of our lives and everyday life into the online sphere, certain rituals will never die out. Zoom platforms and similar applications will never replace business meetings at restaurants where the best contacts are established in an informal and relaxed atmosphere, the most successful partnerships are nurtured and the most lucrative contracts are concluded. Restaurant 369 can organize all kinds of corporate events, celebrations and team building events. We are open to all the ideas, plans and needs of our guests because, to go back to the beginning of this story, we want everyone to feel welcome here.