Friday, March 20, 2009

Question Mark Cafe


"Znak Pitanja" or "Question Mark,"constructed in Balkan style by Greek craftsmen, is the oldest Belgrade restaurant, and was built in about 1820 for Prince Miloš Obrenović. His brother-in law opened a restaurant with his own name over the door, the "Ećim Tomina". His heirs sold it in 1878, and its name was changed to "At the Shepherd's". Then in 1892 it became "At the Cathedral," since Belgrade's main cathedral is just across the street. This name had to be immediately removed, because it did not comply either with local regulations or with the views of the Cathedral authorities. As a temporary solution until another name could be chosen, the owner put up a sign with a question mark on it, which has stuck to this day. (The 'Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie" sign is of course not its real address; I imagine this souvenir sign was brought back from Paris.)

The "?" was a favorite of mine for quite a while, but I hadn't been back for many years until the other evening. Though inside it is practically untouched since I first came to Belgrade, the service and food were terrible, far from what they once were. It left me with a big question mark in my head: "Why didn't I choose another restaurant?" Definitely now a tourist trap, so if you come to Belgrade, let me know, and I'll point out another place for you to go!

If you enlarge the menu, you'll see that the Question Mark does serve some local specialties: enjoy the translations of the 5th, 6th, and 7th items...

11 comments:

James said...

Oh how I envy you. You just can't get good bowels or young bull's sex glands in Texas anymore. :-)

This looks like a job for Andrew Zimmern!

Thanks for the post.

Virginia said...

HA, I"m laughing at James' comments. Thanks but no thanks Bibi. If I come to your hometown, I plan to dine at Chez Bibi! Wouldn't that be some fun!!
V

soulbrush said...

yuk.things change and keep changing don't they?

Marie Reed said...

lol! I'm glad that you took a picture of the tourist trap with the nifty name:)

Debby said...

Yow. Not in the mood for bowels or glands.

Mihajlo said...

Wow a "Rocky Mountain Oyster Roast " Being from Montana I miss such delicacies .
Thanks Bibi
Mihajlo

marley said...

I think I'll have a plate of Glands please! Lol! I like the lamp - very original.

Joni said...

Some of that sounds pretty nasty and it sure "looks" expensive!!!
The question mark over your head is a funny vision!

Alexa said...

What James said! LOL

Babooshka said...

This veggie would maybe pass on the menu. Intriguing history behind the question mark.

Kirth Gersen said...

Just got back from Serbia, where my wife and I spent a wonderful afternoon at the Question Mark Cafe. The oddball local dishes are better than the mixed grile, but the location and vibe were all we could have asked for. Maybe it's a tourist trap, but for non-Serbians visiting Belgrade, you could do a lot worse.