Cocktails and a warm welcome with a view in this Belgrade waterfront restaurant
Ambar Restaurant is a Balkan restaurant, which of course you would expect to find in Serbia. But inside and in the kitchen particularly, it hides several surprises. Ambar is a gastronomic celebration of what it means to be Serbian. But crucially, it showcases what it means to be Serbian today. It balances traditional food, with playfulness and modern touches. Most of all, you are greeted with a warm welcome when you come to dine at Ambar, the Belgrade waterfront restaurant.
It’s the sort of restaurant that a multi-generational group could go to and still have fun. There’s something for everyone here. One might imagine that a Serbian Grandmother would appreciate the traditional Cheese Pie recipes used at Ambar. Whilst, the parents would enjoy the wine list and the children would love the modern twists and turns of the décor inside. The food is familiar enough for anyone hankering after Balkan cuisine but still interesting enough to keep them coming back. For anyone new to Serbian food, well Ambar serves up a veritable feast.
The story of Ambar is quite an intriguing one too. This restaurant actually started out by opening up a branch in the United States of America. We spoke with the manager of Ambar, who was previously charged with the challenging task of taking Serbian food to the US market. Not an easy feat. But, he assured us that after some initial challenges, Ambar became so popular in America that they were able to open up two branches. Ambar is now somewhat of a Capitol Hill stalwart.
Belgrade waterfront restaurant with a view
Following the success of Ambar in the US, the owners decided to bring Ambar back to where it belongs! It now takes up a prime position on the banks of the river Danube on Belgrade waterfront. It is a thriving restaurant serving a mixed clientele. On the night that we dined in Ambar restaurant Belgrade, we noticed an eclectic crowd. A few tourists like us, courting couples enjoying a romantic supper, best friends gathering for a few cocktails and snacks and large groups of people devouring some Balkan sharing plates.
In truth, Ambar is the perfect Belgrade waterfront restaurant for just about anyone and at any time of year. The waterfront in Belgrade has been a little bit of a controversial development. At one end of the waterfront, there are numerous high rise and expensive apartment blocks as well as a huge shopping centre. But, the area where Ambar restaurant is located is much more successful and it would be difficult to argue that it’s not. It has undergone development, with a stretch of snazzy looking restaurants and terraces, but without losing the sense of charm or character.
This stretch of the river offers a fantastic little promenade for tourists visiting Belgrade, for couples to take a stroll, for Mother’s with push chairs or for joggers out enjoying the cool water breeze.
All of these people would be hard pushed not to find Ambar a little bit tempting as they pass. With checked red and white linen adorning the tables just by the waterfront promenade, Ambar would be a wonderful spot on a summer’s evening. There’s also a covered terrace with very effective heaters and blankets available, for spring or autumn.
Belgrade waterfront cocktails
Even if it’s cold outside, you can still enjoy the view from the cosiness of Ambar restaurant terrace. But that’s not to say that the inside of Ambar restaurant isn’t equally as alluring. The restaurant has two floors, downstairs there is a large bar area and a number of dining tables, and upstairs is a balcony floor with a smaller number of tables. The restaurant is set up so that most tables can still look out to the waterfront too.
So to the cocktails. After taking my first sip of the “Welcome to Belgrade” cocktail, I decided that if Ambar is known for one thing, apart from the food, it may well be the cocktails. The first cocktail I tried was an inviting mix of apple juice, lemon, cardamon and apple Rakia. For anyone unfamiliar, Rakia is a type of brandy indigenous to the Balkans. Most people either love or they hate Rakia. It was a welcome surprise that the Rakia didn’t overpower the cocktail, in fact, it was perfectly balanced. A delight.
In Serbia, our host tells us, it is traditional (and heartily encouraged) to take a shot of Rakia before supper. We are all for this!
At Ambar, this is easy to do too. They serve a range of different Rakia flavours, from plum, to apple and all things in between. In fact, there are around 25 different Rakia options on the Ambar restaurant menu.
We also tried the “Plum Old Fashioned”, a delectable concoction for any fans of bourbon. But don’t expect a traditional drink, this cocktail at Ambar restaurant Belgrade is laced with plum Rakia. As was the “Monastery” cocktail, a jazzy number with basil and lime. If you’re not a cocktail fan, Ambar restaurant also has an extensive wine list, including some Serbian wines. And as with any self-respecting Belgrade haunt, there’s a good selection of beer (Pivo) too.
Balkan cuisine with a twist
Once the cocktails have worked their magic, it’s time to dine. Every meal at Ambar is opened with a savoury profiterole filled with decadent cream cheese. Although Ambar restaurant offers Balkan cuisine with a twist, they are also keen to include some traditional touches, such as this. Executive chef Bojan Bocvarov has created a menu that balances on this precipice exactly.
We ate a Serbian salad, chopped tomatoes and cucumber topped with cheese. Bright and fresh to start off the meal. This was served with Ambar restaurant’s homemade flat breads. These are real crowd pleasers, many people come to Ambar just for the bread. When we dipped a bit of the warm, fluffy, springy bread into the spreads that accompanied them, we could see why. In Serbia, a red pepper dip called Ajvar is really popular, the version Ambar served didn’t disappoint. We also tried Urnebes which has hot hits of chilli and sharp tangs of garlic and pepper all balanced with cream cheese. Delicious.
The heroes of the Ambar restaurant menu however, have to be the hearty main dishes. We sampled a cheese pie, traditional filo pastry filled with scrumptious local cheese. Then we tried some Cevapi. Anyone who has travelled around the Balkans before will probably have eaten Cevapi, a mince meat sausage which is popular in these parts. But the Cevapi at Ambar restaurant are next level. Made from 100% beef and served with a fresh pepper sauce, they are scrumptious. The pulled pork dish with cabbage slaw also packed a punch, a mouthwatering dish, ready to warm you up on a winter’s day.
Group dining in Belgrade
Ambar restaurant is the perfect spot for large groups looking for a fun and casual dining experience in Belgrade. For travellers visiting Belgrade, especially groups of friends, we don’t think you can do much better than Ambar. Not only will you get a warm welcome and a large comfortable table, but the food is easy to share amongst the group. The cocktails and wine list are of course a bonus too!
This Belgrade waterfront restaurant is perfect for any time of the day. If you arrive here in the morning feeling a little worse for wear after a night out partying in Belgrade, you can enjoy the “dine without limits” brunch offering. This is an all you can eat brunch experience, where you can try everything off the menu. A great idea and a bit of a nod to the American influence at Ambar. Come for brunch, stay for some cocktails with a waterfront view and who knows, you might be ready for dinner again!
How to get to Ambar Restaurant Belgrade
It is easy to get to Ambar restaurant, just head down to the waterfront in Belgrade, look for the most inviting restaurant with the red checked table cloths and you’ve found it! You can find more information about Ambar Restaurant Belgrade on their website, here. We recommend booking ahead at peak times and in the summer, especially for large groups. You can also follow Ambar on Instagram here, for all the latest news and events.
A large main course at Ambar Restaurant costs between 1,100 RSD and 1,900 RSD ($10 to $18) approximately. Cocktails are between 600 and 750 RSD ($5 to $7). The ‘Dine without Limits’ brunch offering is 1,290 RSD ($12) (this must be taken by the whole table.)
Our experience at Ambar Restaurant was gifted. All opinions are our own.
Leave a Reply