In musical terms, an intermezzo is a melodic surprise inserted in the middle of a composition. The corner cafe called Intermezzo at 1427 East 10th Street, where Central, 10th and Louise converge, is a delightful surprise set close enough to the city's center that you can see uptown's skyscrapers from the patio tables.
Intermezzo serves artisan-style pizza, pasta, salad and sandwiches and offers a fully stocked bar with tempting starters to accompany an after-work cocktail. But the entrees grab your attention. Dishes with names like piroska, sarma and burek are a clue that you're not in Kansas anymore. (Piroska is a Balkan-style stuffed pizza, sarma is cabbage rolls filled with ground beef and spices, and burek is a large fillo dough pastry filled with cheese and spinach or beef and onions.)
Sarma is served in a delicate broth with house-made bread. The crusty puff of house bread is similar to an extra thick Indian naan. The burek may sound like Greek spanakopita, but the cheese is not as salty and the burek is as big as man's hand. The signature burger, called a pljeskavica, is made with ground beef, lamb, onions and spices and topped with a special house sauce. There are plenty of vegetarian choices on the menu, including a vegetable sandwich, which is grilled over local hickory.
The building housing Intermezzo stood empty for many years at one of the busiest intersections in town. If approaching from uptown on Central, drive past the Salvation Army building and use a driveway or side street to turn around, because left turns onto Louise or 10th Street are prohibited. Parking is behind the building.
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Across the street is the art deco building that once housed an A&P grocery store, then a music store, then stood empty until it became Swing 1000. The swing music still plays at Grand Central, its new name.
Intermezzo's building was renovated with a period-appropriate expansion toward the west end of its lot and become Honest Pat's, a short-lived avant garde art gallery. It was transformed again and became a delicious surprise in the center of the city.