Since its establishment several years ago, Euro Grill has gained a small but growing following in Santa Clara. From the same owners as the Euro Market a few doors down, Euro Grill serves Balkan cuisine in a personal setting on the first floor of a converted 19th Century wooden home.

On my many visits here, the same gentleman dressed in a casual track jacket often greets and serves customers with comforting attention. Balkan cuisine is influenced by the countries that comprise Southeast Europe, and Euro Grill had been delivering consistently impressive lamb and beef ghoulash, sarma stuffed cabbage rolls, grilled meats, and fresh baked breads in its first years. Nearly all dishes came with hefty portions and outstanding quality that drew me back for multiple visits. Every meal here was as satisfying as the last.

About a month ago, I walked into the restaurant for lunch and asked how long the wait would be. With frank honesty, the same gentleman who greeted me on previous visits said the kitchen was backed up and they could not serve me for lunch. This was the first sign of changes afoot.

The menu has since been pared down to grilled meats and bread, and cold salads that require no cooking. Gone were the ghoulash, sarma, cufte (meatballs in tomato sauce) and burek (meat pie). Basically any dish requiring skill beyond grilling meat and putting it on bread was off the menu. The waiter confirmed that the restaurant lost its chef a few months ago. I proceeded to order the grilled stuffed mushrooms ($7.99), the gyro ($8.99), which had increased in price by a dollar since the last visit and no longer came with a side of fries, and the Mijesano Meso platter ($11.99). Complimentary fresh baked bread was no longer offered.

The stuffed mushrooms described as filled with creamy cheese were, in fact, filled with sour cream and topped with sprinkles of shredded packaged cheese. At nearly $8 for 10 standard sized mushrooms, they were overpriced. Luckily, the gyro that came with thinly sliced sausages, tomatoes, romaine lettuce and yogurt sauce inside fresh baked bread was just as tasty as before. The Mijesano Meso platter is a large sandwich filled with a sampler of five cevapi sausages, two spicy sausages and one chicken skewer. The chicken was perfectly tender and the sausages were well-seasoned as usual. Sour cream, chopped fresh onions and a scoop of marinated pepper paste served on the side enhanced the entree’s flavors.

Once a rising star, Euro Grill is quickly losing its hard-earned reputation. While the chef’s departure has not affected the attentive customer service, welcoming ambiance and quality of the food still on the menu, the lack of home-cooked dishes with complex flavors has made the eatery yet another sandwich place, albeit one that serves hearty portions of delicious meat on fluffy fresh bread.

980 El Camino Real, Suite 100, Santa Clara. 408.244.9745 or