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Šabeso - passion for Slavonian flavours

Do you know what Šabeso is? It was the first completely artificially produced non-alcoholic and carbonated drink that was made from lactic acid, colours, sugar with the addition of soda water, originating in Germany, and it was especially popular in our region between the two world wars. In Slavonski Brod, it was sold in shops, and a photograph from that era shows Slavonians buying the famous drink on bicycles (and with bare feet) in today's Ferda Filipovića Street. It was here that Branimir Štefančić opened the Šabeso Gastro & Wine Bar at the beginning of 2024 as a culinary hallmark of the ship's gastronomy.

Slavonski Brod lacks such initiatives, because it is difficult to find a restaurant where you can eat truly local Slavonian food in various and imaginative combinations. Branimir is a professional chef, he perfected his craft in Kvarner and passed on knowledge about the need to combine local ingredients and traditions in an imaginative way for refined palates. Love and perseverance certainly come from the parents who were the first in Croatia to start the production of raspberry wine from their own cultivation. Today, they also operate the restaurant, together with Branimir's brothers and sisters.

Although the brand of pumpkin is reserved for the Varaždin region, it is found all over Slavonia. Today, farmers compete in serious competitions to see who has the prettiest and biggest pumpkin, and in the olden days Slavonians planted them among corn as a kind of intercropping. However, she was not really represented at the table. Pumpkin was mostly planted for livestock feed and seed production. Branimir prepared a delicious and thick pumpkin soup for us, with the unmistakable sweet taste of this plant that goes well with abundant drops of pumpkin oil.

As the name of the place suggests, this is also a wine restaurant, which starts a scene that is chronically missing in Slavonski Brod. The people of Brod are used to drinking gemišt, as in many other parts of Croatia, but the wine scene is just waking up. This is surprising, given that the Brod vineyard is within easy reach. Branimir advocates for wines from local producers, in which he sees great potential. On its shelves there are wines from various parts of Croatia, but a special place is given to Slavonian Graševina and Traminac.

For the main course, we were served smoked pork (buncek) in cheese cream and roasted pepper sauce, with a side dish of sauerkraut and potatoes. A real winter dish that shows the skill of the kitchen. The trap of mixing these flavours into a kind of fatty soup was successfully avoided, and yet all the ingredients are completely recognizable in the taste. Soft buncek permeated with a hint of smoke found itself in an unexpected sauce made from homemade cheese cream from neighboring Bebrina, enriched with classic roasted paprika, whose refreshing taste lifted the weight of the dish itself. Branimir's mother joins the table and tells us some interesting family facts.

Of course, Slavonia cannot do without pork, and the rich buncek, which is also smoked, shows how the east of Croatia managed to break away from the terrible consequences of the recent disease. On the menu, you can also find products made from the black Slavonian pig, which has become a hit in Slavonian gastronomy, although most local guests still prefer the meat of the well-known domestic pig from the Slavonian courtyards. Kulen and ham are offered as an appetizer, and pork is the most present among the restaurant's specialties such as File yum yum (baked pork fillet with bacon and cream with baker's potatoes), Slavonian fusion (pork fillet, black pig bacon, demi glace sauce, potato fritters), black Slavonian pork loin in a nut crust (pork fillet, walnut and pistachio crust, sweet potato puree, homemade potatoes) and Grandma's schnitzel (breaded pork schnitzel, homemade jam, breaded onion, egg, bacon, fries). Imaginative names of dishes also have imaginative combinations that at first glance do not make sense, but the result is magic for the palate.

A large group of people enters the restaurant and orders mixed grilled meat. The barbecue is an indispensable part of the Slavonian catering scene, according to the principle "the more and the cheaper, the better." Branimir is like many winemakers. They live off bulk sales, but enjoy making top quality wines for select customers. So he too will have to keep a large menu in order to eat "fairly", and the specialties will mostly be given to travelers who stop after reading our story about Šabeso. After all, it is not that we are immune to barbecue, we love it and eat it often.

Right next to Šabes there is a light pole on which two storks built their nest. Kissing at a height, they give a nostalgic reminder of childhood, which many Slavonians also associate with rich dumplings. They were served for dessert. Slavonian plum dumplings are served in vanilla pudding and taste wonderful! This end of the visit to Šabes is a definite incentive for praise and hope that the restaurant will live on in a very special, personal, but also entirely Slavonian gastronomic story!

Šabeso Gastro & Wine Bar

Ferde Filipovića 56, Slavonski Brod


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