If there is one sailing town on the Adriatic which has undergone immense change in recent years, that town would be Jelsa. A whole new waterfront, new touch beach, makeover of the old town, new access road and the pedestrianising of a central square, the amount of change has been staggering in such a short space of time. It has been a lot of work, but the benefits are becoming clear to sea, and Jelsa as a tranquil sailing destination has a very bright future indeed, with more berths than ever available to visitors from the high seas.
And with the general improvements in the town, there have been other improvements too, particularly in the gourmet offer of Jelsa, a town famous for its wines, with Tomic, Dubokovic, Caric and PZ Svirce all easily accessible from the Jelsa waterfront. But there is one new restaurant which is now in its third year which has been quietly building a reputation for quality, service and authentic island produce, which is bringing more guests in their sailboats, as well as diners in cars from as far away as Hvar Town - Artichoke Wine Bar and Restaurant.
It is in many ways a unique restaurant for the island of Hvar. Located in the heart of the newly extended waterfront, just a few metres from your berthed sailboat, Artichoke embraces Hvar gourmet goodness in a way that perhaps no other restaurant on the island does. Despite its 2400 year quality wine history, many of Hvar's restaurants choose not to serve local wines at their main recommendations, and some restaurants not at all. Hvar wines are sold as far afield as China and California, but not in some local restaurants - crazy! Artichoke, on the other hand, has a quite different approach, celebrating local producers to a degree that no other island restaurant comes close.
With comfortably the largest wine list of Hvar island wines in any restaurant on Hvar, the restaurant promotes both the well-established names such as Tomic, Zlatan Otok and Dubokovic, as well as several lesser known producers, which are not too well known even locally. And, in order to encourage guests to get the most out of their Hvar gourmet experience, many of these wines are served by the glass, allowing guests to relax on Jelsa's idyllic waterfront and enjoy a quality journey through the offerings of Hvar's winemakers. A great day to come for dinner at Artichoke if you are sailing is Thursday, as the Hvar Wine Association is holding weekly tastings close by each week. Quality food and wine in a perfect waterfront setting.
As with the wines, so too with the food. Artichoke prides itself on its creative dishes and its adherence to local produce, with 90% of its ingredients coming from the island itself. Not only that, but there are plans this summer to open a special deli store in the restaurant, where you can buy some of the products that went into your meal as a Jelsa souvenir. We will post more details on this once it starts.
A new addition to the menu is the delicious octopus peka, slow cooked under the bell, one of a range of seafood dishes in which Artichoke excels. And while the majority of ingredients are from the island, some have to be sourced elsewhere, quality items such as truffles from Istria, for example, the creative use of which includes truffle ice cream.
The relaxed and sunny exterior contrasts with the expensively furnished interior, making Artichoke a great choice whatever the weather.
Check out the opening party a couple of years ago in the video below to get a flavour, and follow the Artichoke summer on Facebook.