Chef/owner Loryn Nalic and her husband Edo Nalic announce the opening date for their first brick-and-mortar restaurant of Balkan Treat Box at 8103 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, MO 63119 on Wednesday, February 13 at 11 a.m. The food truck and now restaurant concept features the cuisines of the Balkan Peninsula with food inspired from Bosnia to Turkey.
With wood-fire cooking as an essential component to the menu, Balkan Treat Box will offer a new fast casual dining experience in St. Louis. The restaurant plans to open with limited service on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. until the restaurant sells out. Balkan Treat Box will ramp up production and hours gradually over the next few weeks. Full operation hours will be Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. The restaurant plans to update patrons on social media daily if they sell out.
The opening of Balkan Treat Box is a dream realized for owners, chef Loryn Nalic and her husband, Edo. Loryn, a seasoned chef, fell in love with Bosnian food as she fell in love with Edo, who is a Bosnian refugee. Before opening the Balkan Treat Box food truck, Loryn traveled to the Balkan region for a two-month culinary exploration to cook with the locals and learn how to make everything from somun and cevapi to the perfect Turkish pide.
With a culinary background from local barbeque institution, Pappy’s Smokehouse and artisan baker, Companion Bakery, Nalic saw a need for Balkan food in St. Louis. Since Balkan Treat Box opened as a food truck in late 2016, the concept has received both local (Feast, Sauce, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis magazine) and national acclaim (Food & Wine, Food Network, and Travel + Leisure).
“We’re so humbled by the excitement and constant support from our community,” says Nalic. “This restaurant has been a dream of ours for quite some time, and we’re so grateful for all who have helped this restaurant become a reality.”
Upon entering the 1,825 square-foot restaurant, guests are immediately drawn to the smells and sites of the copper-plated wood burning hearth. Guests step in line to order at the counter before sitting at custom, wood tables from David Stine Woodworking. The restaurant seats 50 people in total. From the colorful, wood mosaic wall in Balkan Treat Box’s signature colors of turquoise, yellow and magenta/red to the copper map of the Balkan countries that inspire the menu, guests’ excitement grows for the dining experience that awaits them.
Nalic bakes all of her bread from scratch daily in the restaurant’s wood-burning oven – from her signature somun bread (similar to pita) to her pide, a Turkish wood-fired flatbread. The menu includes food truck favorites as well as several new additions. Guests can enjoy the: Döner ($12) a traditional Balkan sandwich with the option of rotisserie beef, chicken or tofu with onion, cheese, cabbage, tomato, lettuce and “BTB döner sauce;” Cevapi ($11), grilled beef sausages, tangy kajmak (a spreadable dairy condiment made with cream and cheese), onion, cabbage and fefferoni pickled chiles, stuffed into a warm pocket of somun; and Pide ($14), served with kajmak, ajvar (a spicy, smoky roasted red pepper spread), herbs, cabbage, fefferoni pepper and your choice of beef, chicken, daily vegetable or cheese ($11).
New additions to the menu include: the Lahmacun ($12) is a Turkish pizza-like street food that is served rolled up with parsley, lemon, onion, sumac, cabbage, fefferoni and “BTB Sauce” with options of spicy beef or tofu. The Plieskavica or “Balkan burger” ($12) is stuffed with cheese and kajmak and served on warm somun with a side of cabbage salad. The Balik Ekmek ($14) is a grilled seasonal fish sandwich on somun with lettuce, parsley, onion, sumac salad, tomato and “BTB Sauce.” As a former vegetarian for eight years, the Patlidzan ($12) is one of Nalic’s personal favorite dishes. The wood-fired eggplant sandwich is served in somun with cheese, cabbage, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, pickles, marinated egg, herbs, kajmak and apricot pomegranate molasses. The dish can also be made vegan upon request. The restaurant will offer seasonal specials and desserts as well as a selection of wine and beer, once fully operational.
While Balkan Treat Box is a fast casual, counter-service restaurant, Nalic makes every dish to order so anticipate wait times of up to 15 minutes from ordering in the opening weeks. Upon hiring additional staff, Balkan Treat Box does plan to still operate the food truck in the spring/summer season. Additional plans include breakfast and catering menus as well.