If someone is going to invite me to eat their grandmother’s house, I’m probably gonna go. Not just because it would be fun to meet their grandmother, but chances are, I’ll have an awesome meal. Grandmothers don’t care about calories and greens. They just want you to be full and happy. So when I was invited to Baba, a new Balkan restaurant where the theme is grandmother’s cooking, I was on board. And turns out I was right: grandmothers never disappoint.
The setting is not exactly like a grandmother’s home, but it is really relaxed, with cozy chairs and dark lighting. The menu is small plates, with a ton of vegetarian options which is awesome. The wine list is especially cool: lots of Serbian and Georgian wines which are some of the oldest wines in the world. I sampled Baba’s Sazerac, which warmed me from the inside.
The menu offers several fried dishes, including fried smoked gouda of which I had two orders because it was so good—gooey melted cheese that is just oozing our from its crunchy breaded exterior. It comes with a cherry sauce, but honestly you don’t even need the sauce, the fried cheese is good enough on its own. Fried olives stuffed with blue cheese, served on tooth picks, are crispy and briny. In case you can’t tell, I love fried food.
I also love the vegetables that are typical in Balkan cuisine: mushrooms, eggplant, and cauliflower. The cauliflower at Baba’s is roasted and smothered in super creamy eggplant sauce. Pomegranate seeds add a hint of sweetness. Meaty roasted mushrooms cooked with thyme are fragrant and woody, and hand-cut sweet potato chips, served with a creamy aioli are addictively good.
If you are in Clarendon, this is a great spot to meet up with friends and share food and drinks. It’s casual and the food is designed to serve as snacks with beverages. Feel free to kick back, after all, you are grandma’s house. And you don’t even have to help with the dishes.