You’re sitting in an old tram car. The walls and ceiling are covered in thin light wooden strips, pieces like the ones you remember rolling down over keys of the old organ in your grandpa’s house. A small box TV hanging in the corner carries the voices of tennis commentators quietly across the room. It’s takes you a minute to realize that they’re speaking Slovene…you’ve been switching among languages so much lately that they just register without differentiation. You take a seat at one of the tables, hardly big enough for two people to sit across from each other without fighting for leg space. It’s a quaint spot. Sure, the table’s a little sticky and the food from the last guests has been waiting for a clean up for the past five minutes, but maybe it all just contributes to the vibe.
The waiter soon sees you there and comes to ask what you’ll have. He’s a big guy, at least 100 kilo, wearing a t-shirt pulled taught around his significant beer belly to tuck into a pair of track pants. “English menu?” The plastic covers of the meal lists are fraying at the seams, seemingly turned over and over by a generation of restaurant guests who just can’t decide whether they’ll have the pljeskavica burger or pork sausage and beans. At least each dish comes with a big piece of lepinja, a Bosnian flatbread. This loaf alone makes the stop worth your time.
Once he has your order, the waiter heads back to the kitchen which is really just another train car attached to the dining car. It’s a two-man team managing the cooking and serving, so the the wait is a little longer than usual. The air in the car turns a bit smoky as a chicken steak is turned over on the grill. You see the main cook take your prebranec off of the stove in a pot and carry it over to a clay bowl. Good thing he has this, since it will keep the warmth and savory goodness of your food intact as you slowly fight your way to eat such a filling meal.
The combination of beans, pork, onions, and spice with the occasional piece of lepinja soaked in there seems too good to be real. The bread is ever so slightly charred and leaves a dusting of flour on your fingers as you tear it into pieces to dip into the bowl of beans. As if this weren’t enough, there’s a pile of pomfri (french fries) waiting on the next table over for when you’re ready, next to the bowl of sour cabbage and lettuce which freshen the meal perfectly. Of course, unless you’ve just run a marathon, you probably can’t eat it all. You wonder how those who enjoy this on the daily come to possess the ability to infinitely eat. Even so it’s fun to try, and though you’re now so full that you wonder if you can even eat for the rest of the week, you know that the next trip back is just right around the corner.