A taste of the Balkans in Ipswich
Beautiful food is a universal language – just ask Erin and Boris Stefan, the owners of Ipswich restaurant Stefans Balkan Grill.
Erin Stefan moved from fast-paced Sydney to a remote village in the Balkans and spent a year living with her future mother-in-law, Snyezana, planning the wedding and adjusting to a world completely different to the one she had left behind.
“My mother-in-law didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Croatian so the way we connected was through cooking,” Erin says.
“We had an apple tree and she taught me how to make strudel… I make it fresh every day here using her recipe,” she says, “… and some people say it is the best they’ve ever had.”
After their wedding the couple spent six years in Sydney before deciding to launch their dream restaurant in Ipswich. They had two friends here and loved the sense of community they had seen in the city.
Their menu is packed with the traditional dishes Snyezana cooked for Boris throughout his childhood and the couple are passionate about offering a heart-felt, homely insight into life in Eastern Europe.
One of the highlights is the traditional and utterly delicious cevapi sausage served with salads and ajvar – a sweet savoury capsicum condiment.
“Over there, everyone grows their own vegetables so we have a lot of salads on the menu,” Erin says.
“People do their own pickling, they have their own cornfields and vineyards and they make their own wine. I learned to cook over an open fire for all the people from the village who came to help us when it was time to harvest the grapes.”
The extensive menu includes kransky sausages with creamy mash and mustard; marinated pork skewers with chips and salad, cabbage rolls (sarma), schnitzel, stuffed capsicum and many more.
The couple have been delighted that so many people from Brisbane and beyond have travelled to come to their restaurant for the traditional fare but they are equally happy that locals who are not so familiar with the food are also embracing it.
The restaurant is BYO and open right through from 11am to dinner Wednesday to Saturday (and for dinner on Tuesday and lunch on Sunday), and serves a range of European teas, superfood lattes and locally roasted Somerset coffee.
Some regulars have been popping in for a late afternoon strudel and coffee on their way home. The menu includes many gluten-free and vegetarian options.
Stefans Balkan Grill is at 132 Brisbane Rd, Booval with ample parking at the rear.