Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Top 10: Posat Restaurant

Saturday, 4 June 2016

O'zlata Restaurant and Bar: Welcome to Diocletian's Palace

In the heart of Diocletian’s Palace, tucked away in the newly transformed Golden Gate Palace we present you with O’zlata, having just opened its doors this week.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Restaurant Goldcode: Perfected Gastronomy in Duće

(Poljička cesta 11A; 21310 Omiš; +385 21 735 557; www.hoteldamianii.hr) 

In the past few weeks, quite a few eateries have popped up in and around Split as the summer season kicks off and rumors of new openings keep spreading. I have been on eating duty to find out what’s new, hot and tasty in Split and I was particularly excited to be visiting a restaurant out of town that more and more friends in my foodie network were praising as THE gastronomic gem of Split!...even though it isn’t even in Split! 

Just before sunset, two friends and I ventured 25-minutes south of Split to the coastal village of Duće. Duće is, well, just a coastal settlement dotted with holiday homes popular amongst the Splićani for its beaches. The deluxe four-starred Hotel Damianii is located in Duće along the coastal highway and houses Restaurant Goldcode, our destination for the evening. The boutique hotel’s interiors are Fendi design-inspired with swanky fittings and upholsteries in cream and black tones.

The prim and proper restaurant interiors put you right into a fine-dining mode with plush booths, deep chairs, designer lamps, and panoramic windows that lead you onto a wide terrace with pool and sea views. Although the building is set back on the land plot from the road, the sound of traffic disturbs and throughout your visit, you wonder WHY would anyone with a sense of business place such a luxe product in a destination without any tourism offer other than a nice beach and a noisy road.

 

Despite the hotel’s rather odd location, our jaws dropped when we skimmed the tasting menu; the dishes sounded so tempting and original that I once again had to double check whether I indeed was in the Split-Dalmatian county! I then learned that Chef Špiro Pavlić who once worked in Dubrovnik’s famed Restaurant Nautika and trained in the world-renowned Noma in Copenhagen, conquered the Goldcode kitchen…in Duće! Ok, enough about Duće and on to focusing on what matters, the food!

Goldcode will launch their a la carte menu in late June but we had the pleasure of being presented with two tasting menus; one of three courses for 220kn and the other of five for 330kn. Skimming the wine list I spotted many of my favorite Croatian wines but I found that the prices were indeed much higher than in the city; for instance, Pošip Čara was priced at 260kn where in town the price averages 160kn. We opted for a versatile rosé, the sassy Dingač St. Heels from Saints Hills Winery. As the friendly and perhaps slightly over-formal waiter took care of all the details, he informed us that we could combine any courses from either of the menus according to our liking so we all combined a varied menu of three courses each. 

As we waited for our starters of cuttlefish salad, a trio soup and a tortellini, we devoured the warm breadbasket of hearty buns with truffle, bacon and onion in the mix and the amuse bouche, a cold vegetable soup with Parmesan sticks.

My cold salad of cuttlefish with mango, olive oil, honey and citrus emulsion was light, sweet and acidic; a refreshing early summer combo to open up my appetite.

My dining partners in crime enjoyed a trio soup and a tortellini. The waiter poured a shellfish cream soup over julienne vegetables and apple purée at the table. Otherwise slightly reluctant when it comes to creamy soups, this was a winner, a soup for the senses that was not over-creamed; hearty and smooth, this was an Adriatic flavor bomb! The veal-stuffed homemade tortellini came with an intricately spiced mustard sauce which won the heart of my foodie friend.

 

As a main course, two opted for the Best of Veal, a wintery dish of veal fillet with sherry sauce, potatoes dauphinoise, mashed peas, and beetroot. Although the waiter didn’t ask how well done we wanted our meat to be prepared, Chef Špiro’s execution of an otherwise classic dish was spot on.

The table’s third diner went for the Macaroni and Shrimp, a homemade tri-color pasta, indigenous to the island of Korčula, in a flavorsome (thankfully non-creamy) shrimp sauce topped with a shrimp skewer. Although wholesome, this rustic plate was a little out of place and could do with some added flair or re-interpretation…perhaps a deconstruction.

 

The moment we had all been waiting for, dessert! We all opted for the Tonka, a milk chocolate cream with tonka (a rare bean similar to vanilla but distinctly fruity and spicy rather than floral) topped with Amaretto jelly and gold-leaf on a macaron. This naughty little dessert blew our socks off; the sweetness of the macaron and chocolate were well contrasted with the tang of Amaretto…and it all just melted in your mouth.

We were so thrilled about the dessert that we just had to try the other dessert also on offer, the Caramel Mousse with almond and hazelnut cream covered in a chocolate glaze. This creative semifreddo re-interpretation is something I urgently need to have on stock at home; Špiro! I am ordering a batch!

 

Before drifting back home to Split, the humble chef came out to greet us with a sweet platter of lemon jelly, homemade Rocher, and choco-cornflake bars; the perfect icing on the cake after a spectacular experience for my taste buds. 

Restaurant Goldcode truly offers a unique gastronomic experience however, its odd location is a pity as it is out of view and out of the way for customers; there was actually only one other table of guests in the restaurant. I look forward to my return when Chef Špiro Pavlić launches his a la carte menu so I can flavor some of the things he has in store for us this summer.

 

Friday, 5 April 2013

Oštarija u Viđakovi: Strictly Dalmatian Fare!

(Prilaz braće Kaliterna 8

; +385 (0)21 489 106; www.ostarijavidjakovi.com) 

 

 Oštarija u Viđakovi is a konoba hidden down a tight street in the Bačvice neighborhood and if you are lucky enough to find it, you will immediately be drawn by its intimate terrace and charming interiors. The eclectic mix of knick knacks include old radios, the obligatory checkered table cloths, rural Dalmatian artifacts old photographs of Split as well as important people that have shaped its history. Oštarija u Viđakovi was founded in 1799 according to the sign in the front and definitely exudes an Old World feel.

 

 As its interiors, the menu is strictly Dalmatian with traditional dishes, grandma’s recipes and seafood fare. As you skim the menu, dip bread in local olive oil as enjoy a shot of rakija. The a la carte menu is written in Split dialect (as well as English and Italian) and takes a large focus on grilled fish and meat dishes with traditional specialties such as marinated sardines, codfish risotto, stuffed paprika, Dalmatian fish brodetto, and Dalmatia’s very own paradižot, an egg white biscuit dessert. 

 

Oštarija u Viđakovi is largely dependent on tourists but its large interiors makes it a popular venue for group events. It is open throughout the year but admittedly, the execution of the dishes fall back a little during the off-season. Nonetheless, Oštarija u Viđakovi offers a pleasant atmosphere with local peasant food; a great spot pre or post a visit to Bačvice Beach.

 

Monday, 18 February 2013

No Stress Cafe and Bistro: Going Urban Chique on Pjaca

Located right next to the 15th century City Hall on the famous Pjaca (Narodni Trg), the urban chique décor of this al fresco café and bistro definitely draws curiosity; it positively drew mine… three times in one! This is a popular coffee spot for the city's elite and intellectuals for a morning chat as they observe who is striding across Pjaca in the latest fashion but as the sun starts to get, hip youth swarm to this joint to be seen on this popular square.

When the weather warms, an Istrian super-chef conquers the kitchen as he stirs up a selection of contemporary Croatian dishes crafted with premium ingredients. During one of my late summer nights, the chef started me off with a trio of seafood tartar; sea bream on bob beans, wasabi tuna on diced tomatoes, and shrimp on truffle cream cheese.

Moving on, I opted for the flavorsome beef fillet steak with aromatized potatoes, creamy truffle sauce and saffron.

With a constantly rotating dessert menu, I was served with a favorite creation of mascarpone cantuccini scoops with a wild berry sauce.

No Stress is also known to serve simple breakfasts during the season.

Sit back and don’t stress as you flavor local specialties at another dimension. This al fresco venue provides you with front row seats to Laganini, a Dalmatian expression defining their slow and laid back attitude to life.

Address: Iza lože 9, 21000 Split, Croatia

 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Vagabundo Restaurant and Bar: The Culinary Nomad Returns Home

Restaurant Vagabundo opened its door in summer 2012 and has since then mainly catered to the hotel guests of Hotel Split in Podstrana where it is housed. Somehow, they have managed to stay off the local foodies' radar but after my recent discovery of this gastronomic gem, I hope that hedonists like myself will now add this joint to their list of places to get their memorable culinary injections with a little luxe on the side.

Proprietor and chef, Vinko 'Vice' Marinkovic travelled to the Americas to master his culinary craft, serving as executive chef in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and the United States. After 12 years abroad, he returned to his native Croatia and brought with him international experience and a myriad of new recipes. The result was Vagabundo, a restaurant that represents his nomadic food travels, which he opened in Bol, on the island of Brač. After the success of this vibrant eatery placed on a Croatian island, he expanded by opening Vagabundo in Split, following the same concept.

The interior of the restaurant is quite small and perhaps lacks identity with a black and white contemporary feel and bare walls overlooking a modern courtyard garden however, the real surprise is the killer rooftop terrace that can serve 180 diners in the summer with unobstructed west-facing seaviews.

The culinary genre of Vagabundo clearly represents the Mediterranean with classics such as tomato soup, Caesar salad, and homemade gnocchi dotting the menu however, most dishes have added flair and most importantly, Chef Vinko's execution is simply spot on. No canned tomatoes, no 'homemade gnocchi' from a supermarket, actually freshly baked breads, and no dressings from a tube; just pure ingredients combined to make a wholesome dish. Skimming the menu, a few dishes catch my curiosity such as  the vegetable filled pancakes topped with a tomato concasse and basil cream sauce, the linguini with mussels and Chorizo, Champagne risotto, brandy-flamed tournedos, and bruschetta selection.

My friend and I came for dinner at Vagabundo on a quiet Thursday evening and Chef Vinko had, to our positive surprise, already devised our menu so we just had to sit back and let our palates explore his culinary creations.

First up was a litte octopus salad contististing of a few thick slices of tentacles from what clearly must have been from a monstor-sized octopus, topped with a home-marinated anchovy, a raw jumbo shrimp, capers and drizzled with olive oil. Every restaurant here has an octopus salad but most do an overkill of onion and potatoes where you have to dig around to actually find a decent piece of octopus. Vagabundo's approach brought the dish back to basics with two other seafood dimensions; good play.

The simplicity and naughty deliciousness of the next dish was just what the doctor ordered; breaded shrimps with a Dijon mustard honey dip. The texture of the crispy shrimp paired perfectly with the sweet and pungent sauce, although two pieces was not enough more me; this was straighforward comfort food galore.

Before we got cracking on the pasta, we got a heartwarming roasted butternut squash soup, drizzled with olive oil. I enjoyed that the soup was not grainy in the slightest and it was served steaming hot but perhaps a crostini on the side and an aromatized oil (instead of olive oil) would add some flair.

Another Dalmatian restaurant classic is the black cuttlefish risotto and for our pasta course, we got a reinterpretation of this; homemade gnocchi in squid ink with baby cuttlefish. I was surprised as I had never tried baby cuttlefish and admittedly, my sidekick was first drawn back at the thought of baby cuttlefish but we both dug in and were delighted that the texture was very soft, almost the same as the gnocchi; a perfect match.

 

As a maincourse we got a mini tuna steak, served on a stack of vegetables; roasted capsicum, egged potatoes dauphinoise, Swiss chard, a grilled chantarelle, and a baked cherry tomato. This dish was another tribute to 'back to basics' where the distinguishing flavors each ingredient combined well with the bite of the tender tuna. 

To end off a good night, Chef Vinko handed over the grand finale, dessert. The nameless fluffy dessert combined raw meringe and almonds with a mouthwatering sabayon sauce, topped with strawberry sauce; simply delicious, and again I wished the portion was double in size.

After a shot of carob liquer and a cappuccino we drop back to Split in delight as we realize we have discovered something new and competitive on Split's 'upscale' dining scene.

Restaruant Vagabundo on the lower floor of Croatia's only eco-friendly hotel, Hotel Split in Podstrana, just 8 kilometers south of Split along the coast highway.

Chef Vinko owns and management four restaurants, two on Bol, one in Split, and one in Zagreb. Additionally, he owns Dalmatino Catering & Personal Chef Services where he fully caters to weddings and special functions, corporate events, private dinners in your home, and conducts cooking classes. 

Vagabundo Restaurant & Bar

Hotel Split

Strožanačka 20, 21312 Podstrana

tel.: +385 21 420 420

www.dalmatinocatering.com 

 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Konoba Stare Grede: A Carnivore's Heaven

I can’t tell you how many times I have passed Stare Grede with an urge to go in, but all those times I was walking alone and somehow never got the courage. I have heard so many good things about this place being a true local lunch hangout where blue-collars go during break to get the best meat on the market. I even know of an elderly gentleman who ventures across the city several times a week to have a bite of their daily dishes. Finally, it turned out that close friends of mine are regulars there and after I told them “I heard about this place called Stare G…,” they took my by the hand and hurried me in under the old beams of this konoba. Stare Grede means ‘old beams’ you see and this traditional tavern only 1km from the center, is just that; old beams, rustic wooden benches, stone walls, and old photos on the wall. 

We were immediately greeted by the owner who insisted we join him for a dram of heart medicine (a.k.a. rakija or grappa) as an aperitif. I politely passed but my friends accepted without a second thought.

The owner is a hunter so in wintertime, game is a favorite on the menu; his own catch. He bakes his own breads, and a knocks out a reputable peka (meat prepared under a bell covered in coal) on order. He is passionate about sourcing the best produce there is, whether is be local prosciutto, vegetables, and cheese, but meat is really Stare Grede’s forte; so what else but to try some carnivorous delicacies?

The owner’s wife wanted us to try her newest concoction on the house; čvarci paté, a paté made of pork rind, spiced with paprika. Now there is something that warms my heart; it might give me a heart attack in years to come but its so worth it. Surprisingly, the texture wasn’t as lardy as you would think when you know what hides in these balls or calories. Where I come from, we eat crispy rind out of candy bags so this made me felt right at home.

As main, I opted for a real man’s plate of bacon-wrapped steaks on the spit with potatoes à la peka on the side. This joint probably one of the only places in town that asked me how I wanted my meat cooked (medium) instead of than killing the poor piece by making is extra well done. The outcome was simply spectacular; tender meat cuts without the stringy bits, an easy cut, and wholesome crispy potatoes. Steak on a spit meant two spits with four 7cm diameter pieces on each, so eight pieces (!!). Even the real men at the table couldn’t consume the whole plate so luckily I was able to bring my father home some manly food.

After a slow meander home and a well-deserved nap on a very full stomach, I realize that my dining experience at Stare Grede has probably been one of the most authentic to date. I am still craving a revisit to so I have sourced a lunch companion for this afternoon, as rumor has it that their daily dishes run from 29KN only…. so gotta go!

Address: Domovinskog rata 46, Split

Friday, 18 January 2013

Makrovega: A Health-Conscious Macrobiotic and Vegetarian Restaurant

Who says that the only way to be on a diet is to stay at home and eat boring food? Makrovega is exactly what the doctor ordered; health-concious yet delicious macrobiotic and vegetarian food. Makrovega have a replaced boring with sumptuous in their definition of healthy foods. They are located in a backstreet of the Varoš neighbourhood but their well-positioned signs make it easy enough to find.

So what exactly does Makrovega do to keep their menu low cal, low carb, low anything? Firstly, they craft a new menu everyday, depending on the season, the current weather, and the creativity of the chef. They work solely with organic grains and fresh vegetables, and use no additives or refined goods such as white sugar and flower. Makrovega make it s daily mission to be constantly up-to-date on the newest technologies, methods and trends within healthly eating, and they are eager to spread their gospel with regular cooking classes. 

Makrovega offers two dailiy menus; a vegetarian and macrobiotic menu. Now what's the difference you ask (and I ask too)? In simple terms, a vegetarian diet includes milk products whereas a microbiotic diet doesn't, but often uses soja as an ingredient. In stricter terms, the macrobiotic trend started in Japan and is more of a life philipophy (fining harmony between body and mind), stating that plants belong to the yin (which has a less agressive content) and meats belong to yang (which has violent and agressive content).

Oh and did we mention that Makrovega also have snacks at the counter so you are not obliged to a full menu on your visit, AND they do deliveries across town too. 

Makrovega also have another location called UpTown on Domovinskog rata, 1km from the center. They serve delicious over-the-counter healthy snacks such as tofu sandwitches, detox juices, and sugar free cakes; a popular lunch spot for the working peeps.

 

MAKROVEGA

Leština 2

+385(0)21 394 440

www.makrovega.hr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Bajamonti Restaurant & Café: Elegance on Prokurative

Bajamonti is named after the legendary mayor of Split who implemented the construction of the neo-Renaissance Prokurative where the restaurant sits today. Other than a picturesque sea view from the terrace, Bajamonti spans across two levels with dining in the gallery where you can observe the café life below. The 1920’s style elegant interiors pay tribute to cinema with subtle details such as classic movie posters; quite suitable as this location, just three years ago, housed the Marjan cinema.

The Bajamonti Café is a bustling hotspot for the city’s aristocrats as they sip their Lavazza coffee and flavour the cake selection of the day, and at times, a pianist plays soothing tunes in the background. The restaurant above has a seasonal menu with classical and international fare prepared with a contemporary twist. Bajamonti’s risotto selection are an isolated reason to pay a visit; the signature beef fillet risotto with balsamic vinegar, honey, Plavac Mali wine, and Mediterranean herbs is a treat for the senses.

Recently, Bajamonti has turned their focus on seafood and promise the freshest catch prepared with contemporary flair.

They also have a juicy steak menu with a selection of side dishes and sauces, home-made pastas, and the absolutely fabulous dessert assortment which is one of the most sumptuous in town. Even if you didn’t come for a meal, you can allow yourself to drool over a portion of figs cooked in prošek with a cinnamon mascarpone cream.

 

The wine list is concise with great representations of Dalmatia and Croatia available by the bottle and by the glass.

Trg Republike 1 (Prokurative Square)

21000 Split, Croatia

+385(0)21 341 033

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