There are some dishes that, once tasted, threaten to haunt your dreams until the day you can go back and order them again.
Such is the hypnotic pull of the (appropriately named) Mystic Burek.
The cult pop-up started back in 2020, when chef Spasia Dinkovski started ransacking her Macedonian grandma’s recipe book while looking for the layered cheese & egg filo pie that she essentially lived on when visiting the country as a child.
Making all of them in her domestic kitchen at home and selling them via Insta (or just opening her car boot next to a pub and slinging them the old fashioned way), she’s spent the last two and a half years building up a feverishly devoted fanbase, with the kind of reviews most chefs would give their left spatula for. And now, she’s just cut the ribbon on a permanent space in south London.
You’ll find Mystic Burek in a modestly-sized spot on a high street in Sydenham, where it looks like it could have been sitting for decades. Dinkovski’s dressed the space in varnished wood panelling and wall paint the colour of her garlic-laden ajvar dip. Orthodox icons rub shoulders with framed vintage car ads and Macedonian football banners, and wipe-down red gingham tables are topped with pink napkins and coffee cups. Simultaneously kitsch and down-to-earth, the whole place feels like a love letter to both the classic English caff and 80s Balkans style.
So, while the bureks are available to take away, it’s worth taking a seat in this cosy spot and spending some quality time with your slice. Opening day was drawing pilgrims from all over London, and it’s easy to see why: the hype is real.
Dinkovski’s bureks are pure comfort. You’ll find the day’s flavours chalked up on a blackboard – maybe a little creamed spinach and potato with Kurdish chilli and a shower of parmesan, or Ras El Hanout-spiced lamb with charred onions and tomato jam. Take your pick, and a hefty slice will be retrieved from the oven for you, all undulating folds of golden pastry – burnished and crispy on the outside, soft and squidgy towards the centre. The whole pie (which you can pre-order to pick up on Fridays) is a thing of geometric beauty, with coils of stuffed pastry forming a kind of delicious pastry dartboard. But when sliced, it breaks into perfectly sized morsels in your hand (you’re encouraged to enjoy it the traditional way, without cutlery), ripe for dipping into that hot ajvar oil (like a runny red pepper houmous) or a creamy garlic & sesame dip.
To wash it all down there’s a fridgeful of Balkan treats to investigate, from burek’s typical companion, drinking yoghurt, to Cockta (Slovenia’s answer to coke, but with a delicious, slightly herbal undertone). If you’re dropping by in the evening, you can also BYOB.
Capping everything off is a daily special dessert, which, riffing on the pastry theme, might be peach baklava, or a sour cherry bun topped with mascarpone…
If you’ve not had your filo the stuff yet.
NOTE: Mystic Burek is open Thursday – Saturday, 12-8pm. There are no bookings – find out more here.
Mystic Burek | 227 Dartmouth Road, SE26 4QY
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