If you’re looking for something hearty to eat in Croatia, I suggest you try the authentic Croatian cuisine at Konoba Hvaranin in Split.
I found the restaurant to be very authentic, though I must admit that I wouldn’t know what authentic Croatian restaurants are like, as I did not visit Croatia with a local. But the decor of the restaurant, and the paintings didn’t come across as pretentious. In fact, I found the drawing of the Croatian coast to be rather intriguing.
I guess the testament to its popularity (apart from high Tripadvisor ratings), would be the observation that it was 10pm in the evening and there were customers still eating and drinking. In Split, entire streets were almost dark by then, apart from the few touristy hangouts.
The main dish to try would be the Pašticada. According to Wikipedia, Pašticada is a stewed beef dish cooked in special sauce, popular in Croatia. It requires long and meticulous preparation: first, the meat is pierced and stuffed with garlic, cloves, carrot and bacon, then salted and marinated in vinegar overnight. The marinated beef is then roasted and cooked with roasted bacon, onions, parsley root, nutmeg, prunes, tomato paste, water and stewed up to five hours, depending on meat. After cooking, vegetables is blended in a sauce.
Pašticada at Konoba Hvaranin was served with gnocchi, small, soft dough dumplings made from flour.
The beef was tender and very flavourful. I enjoyed the red wine sauce – you could tell that there were many ingredients in there as well. That being said, the gnocchi did not fit very well with my Asian palate. I’m used to rice and noodles, and the starchy gnocchi’s felt a tad heavy after one or two mouthfuls.
When the waiter took the order, he did not ask for my preference on how I would like the steak done. I assumed it was up to the restaurant’s discretion. When it came, it was of a medium to well-done texture. The meat was a tad tough, though I enjoyed the vegetables by the side much more than the gnocchi in the earlier dish. My favourite part was the mashed spinach – it was like creamed spinach, only that olive oil was used instead of butter, therefore, it was less cloying on the palate.
The Travelling Squid’s Take
Konoba Hvaranin was located along a small alley in the main tourist area of Split. I found the food to be quite delectable, as I didn’t know what to expect from Croatian cuisine. The Pašticada is a must try, as that’s the highlight, though you could suggest replacing the gnocchi with vegetables if you prefer to have something light.
The meal set us back by approximately HKR300 (SGD58, USD43). It wasn’t too expensive, given the big portions. It did seem that the proprietor had put in effort to decorate the restaurant – with pictures and all sorts of books. You could feel some heart in there.
Do give it a try if you’re in the area!
P.S) Just love this drawing.
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Konoba Hvaranin in Split
Address: Ban Mladenova 9, Split, Croatia
Tel: 091 5477 946
Website: https://www.facebook.com/KonobaHvaranin/info [All I could find was the restaurant’s Facebook page]