At the restaurant
Great restaurants and memorable dining is an important part of the holiday experience. This is due to two reasons. First, the culture of creative food preparation, as well as presentation, became part of the destination’s offer. Second, food has always been an important part of any event, and in regards to traveling, it always meant meeting the culture and the tradition.
Going to the restaurants for Croatians more or less presented some kind of celebration, as family gatherings and those with friends were always located in the more secluded areas, at home, in the garden, or in the restaurant closed for everyone else. Of course, that does not mean going to the restaurants is rare, the difference is Croatians just like to do it on their own.
Thanks to tourism, Mediterranean food, which was always valued as a high quality and healthy food got an opportunity to go one step ahead in regards to tradition, and present authentic Dalmatian meals our grandparents used to make and which for a short period of time almost got lost in the huge amount of modern cuisine novelties.
Happy to take back old customs, remember old recipes and present them in various ways, we can proudly say we offer authentic yet modern Mediterranean food.
So here are few things to know when you dine on the Adriatic coast.
You are probably wondering what is konoba?! Konoba is a place to eat. Today many restaurants will carry the name to highlight the tradition and authenticity of their recipes, even though konoba didn’t need one in the past. Konobas used to serve local wine, cheese, prosciutto… They had a simple offer and wide public. These were places to eat, drink, socialize, sing, play cards, make jokes and laugh. Today, konoba is somewhat different, but it still sets a relaxed atmosphere, offers traditional recipes and many interesting stories to tell.
Depending on your preference you can choose a restaurant or konoba, but the following few things will be part of each experience.
Fish is, naturally, the base of our cuisine. Most of the fish meals will be grilled fish or fish stew. Both delicious and both served in a traditional way. If you order a fish, have in mind you get the whole fish, and in case you would like to avoid that make sure you ask for a fish fille. On the other hand, if you decide to be adventurous and try the fish stew have in mind the similar. To be sure and to get a good recommendation, feel free to ask a waiter to help you out and to give you a clue on what to expect. In the end, he will know the best. He will probably be equally happy to recommend you a good glass of wine that goes well with your meal, but also to prepare you for a regular practice before and after the meal - the grappa.
Famous Croatian digestive with a fairly high percentage of alcohol is a common start and the end of the meal. Every Croatian will swear to its benefits and convince you of the necessity of having one before and after the dinner.
Also, have in mind this is also a way to win a heart of a person who will take care of your good mood for the night. Try the grappa and say živili! Another way to win a hearth of a Croatian (and a good recommendation) is to order or say anything in Croatian. Every local will be happy to hear you speak, and even happier to teach you one more word or expression.
Dobar dan (good day) or dobra večer (good evening) is a good start.
Živili (cheers) is a great expression for short-term bonding, and hvala, or more locally fala (thank you) and laku noć (good night) is a proper way to say goodbye.
To add a bit more, in case you want to impress your waiter after he asks if everything was fine and if he can bring you anything else, you can say: “Odlično, taman" (excellent, just enough), or in case you just might a bit later #pomalo will say a lot :)
Chatting in Croatian and drinking grappa while learning about local cuisine can be a great experience, but have in mind the season is the most important part of the year for many locals, and working in a restaurant during the summer requires a lot of energy. Being in popular destinations offers great diversity, but it also brings more visitors. Sometimes the waiters will not have enough time to chat with you but they will give their best to make the overall experience and the atmosphere local, relaxed and memorable. You will probably remember them as loud, as people from the South often are. They don’t argue though, they just don’t have time to speak slowly, the orders are waiting!
As hectic as sometimes appear to be, going to the restaurants in Croatia can be a beautiful and unique experience, and if you’re lucky enough you might have the opportunity to enjoy a group of locals singing a capella, or to be even part of a chor.
To enjoy the local village atmosphere and to enjoy the dinner overlooking the town are two completely different experiences, both unique in their own way. Being a gourmand or not can be important information when picking the restaurant or konoba, but being an explorer, an adventurer, and a risk-taker will make you sense Croatia in a totally different way ;)
Relax, explore and enjoy the meal.