The best part about travelling somewhere foreign is eating the food. Even better is the upscale fancy version. During my recent trip to Croatia, Restaurant Dubrovnik located in Old Town Dubrovnik served as an amazing introduction to Croatian fine-dining.
The first thing you’ll notice about the restaurant is that all the seating is up on the roof. It’s pretty unique to Old Town compared most other restaurants that are tucked inside small buildings – Restaurant Dubrovnik is super spacious! Although there really isn’t much of a view, breathing in the fresh air from the Adriatic Sea definitely adds to the atmosphere of the meal.
The menu at Restaurant Dubrovnik is pretty trimmed down,and features only 20-30 items. The star is the 8 course chef’s choice tasting menu which, of course, I ordered.
(For a closer look at the menu, you can open it in a new tab)
The total cost of the tasting menu was 590 Croatian Kunas or around $93.30 USD as of September 21st, 2018. By New York City standards, fine dining in Croatia is incredibly well-priced (read: cheap)!
Course 1: Chef’s Welcoming Bite
The chef’s welcoming bite was two miniature pieces of crunchy toast served with a raspberry-cranberry sauce, aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a sprig of some unknown herb that kept appearing in the dishes all night.
My first thought was: “How to I eat this?”. Clearly, we are supposed to construct it like a sandwich but it was a little awkward given the small pieces of toast, the smearing of the sauce on the plate, and the singular sprig of herb and piece of cheese. Plus, we were only equipped with a tiny metal spoon (pictured).
It took some effort, but I finally assembled my chef’s welcoming bite Snackable. Personally, I felt like the flavours didn’t mesh very much. The dryness and sharpness of the cheese really juxtaposed the wet, fruity sauce.
Course 2: Ceviche Dubrovnik Style
They had a bad case of big-plate syndrome with this appetizer.
The Dubrovnik Style Ceviche was composed of thinly sliced white fish fillets and shrimp tails marinated in citrus juice combined with peeled orange fillets sitting on flavoured croutons and garnished with pepper.
For those who don’t know, ceviche is “a seafood dish typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají, chili peppers or other seasonings including chopped onions, salt, and cilantro” (thanks Wikipedia!).
Restaurants Dubrovnik’s take mostly fit the mold of a classical ceviche made with local ingredients. However, instead of the tomatoes, they chose to instead substitute a more neutral red and yellow pepper to play to the citrus-y flavours which worked out great. The fish and shrimp were incredibly fresh and the citrus elements accentuated their natural taste.
Course 3: Baby Beef Tartare
The 3rd course featured baby beef tartare served on rye bread topped with quail egg, radish, asparagus, cucumber and a blue potato chip.
I was convinced this dish would take me to Flavourtown – I mean, look at that presentation! I was ready to get on the bus but it stalled leaving the station. Out of the three of us dining, I think they forgot to season the tartare for two of the dishes. It tasted so bland that the rye bread overpowered it in terms of flavour.
Course 4: Brocolli Soup
This was cool. We were first presented with a beautiful bowl with breaded cream cheese and some spices that gave off a super fragment umami aroma. Then piping hot brocolli soup was poured on top, melting the cheese ball and infusing with the herbs and spices.
I admit that I’m a sucker for soup, but for me this was the best dish of the night. The soup was creamy without being too heavy and really captured the essence of broccoli without being overpowering.
Course 5: Turbot Fillet
Next up was the Turbot Fillet with shrimp, swiss chard and potatoes drizzled in prawn sauce.
Turbot in general is a pretty mild flavoured fish so texture and sauce add a lot to it tastes. In this case, I thought restaurant Dubrovnik did a great job; the fish and shrimp were cooked perfectly and were complemented well by the prawn sauce. If anything, I did feel like the swiss chard and potatoes hidden between the shrimp were a little out of place both flavour-wise (swiss chard is a bit vegetal and slightly bitter) and thematically, and could have served the dished better by not being there.
Course 6: Duck
Duck breast with rosemary, dried plums sauce and apple/pear/mustard seed concasse (Sounds fancy, but this just means roughly chopped in french).
The abstract plating for this dish was little over the top and made me laugh a bit. The taste, however, was no joke! To me, high quality duck breast kind of has a sweet affinity which makes it pair really well with fruity things and the concasse made for a wonderful partner. I would have liked to have a bit more of the plum sauce though and wish they had crisped up what is in my opinion the best part of duck, the skin.
Course 7: (Fruit) Minestrone Soup with Lemon Ice Cream
Finally! Dessert! At this point, I was almost about to burst I was so full. Luckily, my stomach is equipped with a special dessert section for these occasions :).
I really love the idea of food deception and/or emulation, where you take one category/style/type of food and make it look like another. This dish combined fruit and ice cream and transformed it into a minestrone (vegetable) soup which was really neat.
The taste was pretty good to boot – the chef was careful to not make the dish overly sweet and the sugar was cut down by the tartness of the lemon ice cream. It would have been perfect if not for the red berries on top. They were incredibly sour and just did not seem very edible.
Course 8: Lava Cake
Chocolate cake with truffled chocolate lava topped with an almond “chip” and white chocolate mousse with mint.
Chocolate overload!!! I wished I had saved space in my stomach for this one (dessert section has low capacity) because it was probably the best dessert I’ve ever had. It came to us piping hot straight out of the oven. I’ve never tasted something so chocolately and rich as the truffled chocolate lava or anything as unique as the white minty chocolately mousse that carried a marshmallow like texture. Fantastic.
At first the service was really quick and we got a lot of attention from our server but later into the meal it slowed down significantly. It became difficult to find our server and we spent almost half an hour idling waiting to get the check and pay the bill.
Value for price: 5/5
At around $110 USD per head in total for the meal, Restaurant Dubrovnik is an amazing value for a fine dining experience.
Overall score: 4/5
Photo creds for the food go to my travel buddy Andy 🙂