Starting this fall, it will be a little easier for fans of the popular food truck, Balkan Treat Box, to fulfill their cravings for döners and pide. Chef/owner Loryn Nalic and her husband Edo Nalic will open a brick-and-mortar restaurant for Balkan Treat Box at 8103 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, Missouri, 63119 in the former Stratton’s Café.
With food inspired by the Balkan region from Bosnia to Turkey, Balkan Treat Box first hit the streets in March 2017, delivering something different and exciting for the St. Louis dining community and beyond. “We’ve been pretty overwhelmed by the response,” explains Nalic. “We never expected our food to resonate so profoundly with our local community. It still feels surreal that there will now be a permanent home for Balkan Treat Box.”
And Nalic’s humble hospitality makes you feel at home. Her love and care for the cuisine is palatable in her food. “My best friend growing up was Croatian. I found a sense of community with the local Turkish dance community. My husband is Bosnian so I fell in love with him and his country’s food and culture. Everything on our menu has a special story to me,” she states. The new Balkan Treat Box will feature a menu of seven to nine dishes with frequent specials, and guests will still enjoy their BTB favorites.
The food truck’s wood-burning hearth will be recreated in the restaurant so Nalic can bake her signature somun bread (similar to a pita) fresh daily in the open hearth. The soft, airy bread creates the perfect vessel for her Döner with rotisserie chicken, onion, cheese, cabbage, tomato, lettuce and “BTB doner sauce” or the Cevapi, small, tender beef sausages grilled to perfection and served with Nalic’s addictive, tangy kajmak, a spreadable dairy condiment made with cream and cheese, onion, cabbage and fefferoni pickled chiles. Another signature for Balkan Treat Box, scarcely found across the United States, is the not-to-miss Pide, a Turkish wood-fired flatbread served with kajmak, ajvar (a spicy, smoky roasted red pepper spread), herbs, cabbage and fefferoni.
While her culinary background includes working with local barbeque legend, Pappy’s Smokehouse, and artisan baker, Companion Bakery, she saw a need for a new interpretation of the Balkan region’s food. To develop the menu, she knew she had to make the difficult decision to travel without her two children or husband and study the cuisine for two months.
“I was a young, single mom for a long time, but with Edo’s support, we agreed as a family that I had to go to the source. No one in the States was doing the type of food that I wanted to create. I would offer to buy someone’s groceries at the market if, in exchange, we could come cook with them in their homes,” explains Nalic. “I studied every detail from what cuts of meat they ordered to how cevapi differs from Bosnia to Albania. The street food culture became of particular interest to me so you see all of those experiences influence our menu. The first time that I tried the pide in Turkey, I knew that I had to bring that back to the U.S. ”
After her return and the opening of the food truck, Balkan Treat Box quickly became one of the most sought-after food trucks in St. Louis. Not only for the food, but Loryn and Edo’s welcoming charm – both ensure that Balkan Treat Box will soon be a frequent restaurant destination in St. Louis. Balkan Treat Box will open this fall for lunch on Monday through Saturday until they sell out with future plans for dinner service as well as a breakfast menu. The Balkan Treat Box food truck will continue to operate on limited service for the remainder of the season and will be available to book for private events after the restaurant’s opening.