The High Low: Croatia
WORDS: JEMMA HARRISON | IMAGES: RESTAURANT PELEGRINI AND KONOBA DIONIS
With its spectacular coastline and endless summer days, Croatia has been a draw for those wanting to escape the usual sailing rat race for decades. Pristine waterside eateries, panoramic rooftop bars and restaurants serving only the freshest catch come as standard in the Adriatic. With a heavy Italian influence from across the water, the food scene here focuses on using local, organic ingredients with chefs letting the simple flavours shine with little fuss or fanfare. Here, we explore two of the greatest stops to weave into any sailing itinerary around the Dalmatian coastline.
The Must-GoRestaurant Pelegrini, Sibenik
An evening spent dining by candlelight at Restaurant Pelegrini in Sibenik is hard to forget. Located in the heart of the ancient city, this upscale restaurant has been a stalwart on the Baltic food scene, serving up delicious Croatian and Mediterranean cuisine for over 20 years. Sublime flavours, impeccable service and a chilled glass of pošip while in the shadow of St James Cathedral make for a dreamy, romantic night, and it’s no surprise that the restaurant is regularly voted one of the best in Croatia. The local oysters, cuttlefish and sea urchin roe are some stand-out dishes to try, although chef-owner Rudi Štefan has pulled out all the stops with his perfectly curated tasting menu too. Using only small Croatian producers, the focus is unwaveringly on local, seasonal ingredients and flavour. For the main course, try the grilled Adriatic fish or the slow-braised beef short ribs with creamy polenta, both of which are prepared to perfection. Pelegrini was awarded a very worthy Michelin star a few years back and has managed to hold onto it, making it one of only ten restaurants in Croatia to have such an accolade. As such, it’s advised to book ahead if you’re planning to stop in Sibenik before heading onto the Kornati Islands. While booking, ask for a table on the stairs for the best views of this incredible medieval city.
The Hide-AwayKonoba Dionis, Sveti Klement
Set sail and head south towards Hvar and the tiny island of Sveti Klement for some real old-school Croatian hospitality. Nestled in olive groves at the heart of this picture-perfect island is the incredible Konobo Dionis, a rustic family-run restaurant serving freshly-caught fish and sublime barbecued lamb skewers. This is slow food at its finest, and makes for an unforgettable long lunch. Getting off the beaten track, it’s a 35-minute scramble up through the vineyards, offering sensational panoramas until the smell of cooking wafts towards you. Octopus plucked from the sea in the morning are charred to order on the open grill, served alongside the house speciality roasted aubergine pie. Robust flavours and noises fill the air, jostling every sense as your stomach rumbles from the effort of getting there. But the effort is worth it. Spend an afternoon away from phones and distractions, getting steadily merry on the homemade (very strong) white wine and filling your belly with rich dishes and laughter.