It may sound cliche, but some of the coolest places are those that you truly won’t imagine finding at their spot.
YU Business Center, as its name suggests, was built during Yugoslavia, its ristretto version from the mid-’90s. So at the time when the country was falling apart, an ambitious complex was built in New Belgrade. Modern at the time, the expensive home of ‘the elite’.
More than two decades later, its quirky steel constructions still provoke some kind of reaction. However, on its ground floor – and beneath – a whole world of stores has appeared.
Among some of the specific breed is Refuge, or Utočište. Officially, it’s a bakery, and also a pastry shop, luring you with smells and tastes of the orient, dishes and sweets from Arabian zone of influence, from Middle East to Sicily. Delicious cannoli, baba ganoush, harissa and falafel, shakshouka and zataar bread.
The food is hearty and feels like home. Or a refuge. You can pick the one you’d like at the moment, be it Sicilian or Lebanese – all the while sitting beneath blocks of concrete with YU in their name, tasting the beautiful notes of rosewater and saffron in your biancomangiare.
A break here is a perfect fit after a stroll at the nearby quay. And there is something more to the place – one of the workers told me they’re a social enterprise working with refugees, and that more details will be online soon. Something tells me I’ll love this place even more.