Traditional Albanian food served in an open air courtyard. Fast, courteous service and huge portions of delicious food. Live music is part of the experience most evenings.

📍Rruga Luigj Gurakuqi 3, Tirana

Patellxhan i mbushur me perime (peppers stuffed with rice)

Tucked out of sight, just a few steps down an alleyway, awaits a cozy restaurant serving traditional Albanian dishes. We started the meal with Pasha soup with Meatballs – this soup is rich and creamy, essentially a bechemel broth with a touch of lemon. Absolutely fantastic and something we want learn to cook.

We also enjoyed a large appetizer of “stuffed grape leaves”; these rice filled treats were possibly the best we’ve ever had!

Next was the “Lamb cooked in woodenstove”, three different cuts of lamb, we think parts of shank, shoulder and rib. The shank was a little on the dry side but flavourful. The other two cuts were more juicy and tasty. It’s a very, very simple meat dish with minimal spices, served with a basic yellow boiled potato – naturally sweet and creamy but naked as is often the tradition in this part of the world. While this dish was enjoyed, we probably wouldn’t repeat it.

Last, we had the Head of Lamb – 100% an “I dare you” order. It is, in fact, the skull of a lamb split in half, with the accompanying meats, tongue, brain and eyeballs. This is a dish for people who like the taste of offal (liver, kidney, etc). The brain imparts a bit of flavour on the whole thing. There isn’t a lot of meat and it’s a good bit of work to scrape it off the various parts of the skull, the interesting part being how different the meat is in flavour and texture – for example the jaw versus the cheek. We’ve always wanted to try it, because we have a firm rule of trying everything once.

On our second visit we wanted to avoid the meat-heavy binge approach, so we went much more veggie and dairy. The peppers stuffed with rice are just outstanding, roasted to perfection with more of that super tasty rice that Albanians excel at.

We then tucked into a large dish of “cottage cheese” (though this was nothing like cottage cheese in Canada – this was much, much better) with sweet peppers. Eaten with fabulous whole grain bread this dish along would constitute a meal for one person.

Finally, we tried a spinach and cheese pie. While this may sound like spanokopita, it is not (though the dishes are definitely cousins). This is not a phyllo pastry, rather it’s more of a buttery water pastry (that doesn’t do it justice but it’s what we’ve got!). Here’s what matters – it’s delicious!!

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