This visit felt a little bit scripted in how things came to be. Bourbon Cafe wasn’t originally on my world list, and once I arrived I could see why. It doesn't seem like the type of place that advertises itself very heavily. Despite being in an excellent location -- right in the heart of Lincoln Square -- it’s somewhat inconspicuous. There’s the sign to show the restaurant’s presence and name, but that was really it. There were two Eastern European gentlemen outside having a smoke, and the inside of the restaurant was very hot. It was an easy-going night so there was only one woman manning the tables, and she was on a call speaking a foreign language. (Macedonian? Is that a language? Google says… yes! So probably that.) She finished her phone call and apologized, but I wasn’t worried about it. Oh, and movies totally get the Eastern European accent down.
I asked for a menu, which as I mentioned was both in English and Macedonian, if I recall correctly. If it wasn’t in Macedonian characters, it was at least Macedonian words. I asked the waitress what was good. She told me that they only had a handful of options right now, as the owner was travelling to restock the restaurant with the authentic stuff. (Pretty cool.) She recommended the chebapi, which you’ll probably recognize from other posts on Eastern European foods I’ve done. I asked if it was OK if I sat outside, and she said no problem. So I went out to the much cooler air and people watched. A handful of minutes later she brought me out my meal as well as a blueberry juice, smiled, and said “You will like”. It fit perfectly with the rest of the encounter thus far.
There were slices of good, European-style bread to start. I got butter as well as some oil and red wine vinegar as spreads, and the oil and vinegar surprised me a little bit. I’d only otherwise had that at Italian restaurants, and that’s usually balsamic vinegar. The chepabi weren’t the kebab form that I was used to, rather they were eight sausages. The sides consisted of a light vinegar-based coleslaw, some slices of tomato, and chopped onion for both the sausage and the bread.
The sausages were very good, and actually similar to how my Nonna and Nonno (northern Italian for “grandma” and “grandpa”) make them. They were good with or without the onions, and I’d try to simulate a sausage sandwich with a sausage slice and a bread slice. Eight links was A LOT, though. Definitely no need for other menu items, if you're not sharing. The coleslaw was light, as were the tomato and onion, obviously. That was good, given the heavier nature of the sausages.
All in all, a pretty fun and (dare I say “whimsical”? I dare) whimsical meal. I enjoyed my evening and I enjoyed my food. I think the waitress appreciated me taking time to come to the restaurant, as I bet most of their customers are from Eastern Europe. She told me to come again after my meal, and I see no reason not to.
Filed under: Menu Item Analysis