New Era’s new building lacks the charm of other Northern Ohio destinations for great Old World meals, but the food is beyond reproach and the staff is charming. It is a big, popular place where the particular accent is Serbian on a menu that includes a wide array of central and eastern European classics as well as plenty of all-American standards.
Paprikash is a house specialty; unlike the more common Hungarian versions that are creamy rich, this one is more a thin broth, insinuating its pepper flavor into velvety little dumplings that surround pieces of chicken on the plate. Roast duck with stuffing is worthy of a holiday feast. Cevapi — skinless Serbian sausages with a good chaw and a pepper bite — come either 5 or 10 to an order, and are wonderful sided by the kitchen’s genuine mashed potatoes and rich brown gravy as well as a scattering of crisp chopped onion. Meals come with bakery-fresh bread; and the beverage list includes frighteningly dark Turkish coffee.
“Where do you get your strudel?” we asked a young waitress when it came time to order dessert. She looked at us like we were crazy and pointed to the New Era kitchen. “We get it from there,” she answered. “My grandmother makes it.” It might be the best strudel in a city with many fine pastry chefs, its multiple layers of skin unutterably flaky, the warm apple compote at its heart sweet like ripe fruit, not like sugar.