Saturday, 3 September 2011

Dubrovnik Restaurant Review

I've noticed that I'm talking about how much food costs an awful lot. Remember how I mentioned that I'd decided to embrace the overdraft? Well, that's why money is on my mind so much. I'm close to maxing mine out with little prospect of being employed in the next month before term starts. This post was going to be about how I understand why people like non-greasy, proper-Italian pizza now. (People always misunderstand me. I don't dislike proper pizza, I just have no strong feelings towards it.) This post was also going to be about how little good food there was in Dubrovnik. I think I was wrong on this point. And that brings me back to what this post has really turned out to be about: Dubrovnik has good food but it's not cheap. Also, I was very much limited to restaurants which did pizzas and maybe some other things as my travelling buddy is a vegetarian who hates risotto. This is a problem since most Dubrovnik restaurants catered for vegetarians through the mysterious 'vegetarian platter' and vegetable risotto. I think the pizzerias tended to serve worse food than the other places. Also, I think the fish is the best thing to order out there. Unfortunately, the fish is pricy and since I ran out of money and then realised that my debit card was broken so I couldn't take out more, pricy was not an option available to me. I was initially using this list as a guide but it soon became clear that not many of them offered anything other than the vegetarian platter and risotto for vegetarians. The prices indicated are not accurate. Most things were equivalent to England's prices. But the beer was very cheap! So cheap that I now like (light) beer, in fact.

In the Old Town on one of the streets to your right as you enter Pile Gate. The tuna pate tasted fresh and lemony but it's just unfortunate that only one of us could enjoy it. Veal and prawn pasta, pasta vegeteriana. Both very bland and overly creamy. Not cheap - these two mains plus beer and water cost around 250 kuna.
By the harbour in the Old Town and pushed both by the Telegraph guide and the Hostelworld travel guide. I don't know why. I suppose it could have been a cheap eat but I don't feel as though it was. Mussels, four cheese pizza, chips, water and beer. With the sneaky 'cover' charge and a tip, in excess of 200 kuna again. The mussels were really wonderfully cooked but the tomato sauce they came in (Dubrovnik specialty, apparently) was inedibly salty and had a nasty bite of raw garlic. The pizza was 'just a pizza'.
Pizzeria Domenica
The best of all of the vegetarian pizzas eaten in Dubrovnik. On the cheaper side as well. But still not cheap, Old Town prices. This was the pizza that made me understand why people love pizza so much. Soft, light crust. Just the right consistency of cheese. Vegetables which were still juicy. I would recommend this place.
Surprisingly less expensive than expected. Risotto 'Dubravka' with prawns and yet another vegetarian pizza. Thinking of the risotto makes me want to reach for some water. It was headachingly salty. 
The pizza - better than Poklisar's but worse than Domenica's. I would recommend this restaurant for its location though, right by the city walls which look spectacular all lit up in the evening.
Mea Culpa
Damn right it's their fault. Vegetarian pizza was the worst of the bunch. After the first bite, I was very pleased with salmon and vodka pasta. It tasted creamy but still a little tart and rich but still fresh and well balanced and seasoned and just dandy. 
But subsequent bites taught me that no, I was wrong. This was even saltier than the risotto at Dubravka. I couldn't even manage to just wolf it down quickly like I had with the risotto of the night before ('No, I'm not eating it quickly because it's good. I'm eating it quickly because it's too salty but I'm really hungry.') but luckily, some stray cats were about so we fed them with bits of salmon from my pasta. They seemed to like it. 
This is a restaurant in Gruz, the modern harbour of the city. I'm not sure of the name of it but I think what I've put is close enough. Extensive googling didn't help me identify it either. The prices there are as cheap as the Telegraph indicated Dubrovnik would be. And you know what? The food was alright too. I was just pleased that my spaghetti bolognese wasn't overseasoned. It wasn't particularly wowing but it was an OK dish of pasta and by this point, I was pretty happy with that. The vegetarian pizza was second only to Domenica's. 
A change from a vegetarian pizza? My God. Only to a four cheese lasagne though. And calamari for me. I want so badly to rave about this place because the owner was a really cute old man who said 'please' after everything but the calamari was average to poor. Too heavy from the batter. But they had a nice crispness. My companion wouldn't stop raving about the four cheese lasagne though, the service was great and the prices were on the less expensive side of Old Town prices. Plus the tomatoes in the salad were the best I've tasted. Except I don't think we can put that down to the restaurant, I think that's Croatian tomatoes in general. Even tomatoes on pizza bread from their equivalent of Greggs are that good.
Another restaurant by the harbour. Not so good with the pizza this time. Burnt base. My fish (unidentified) was tasty though. And the potatoes that came with it! I think those potatoes will take a place amongst my best potato memories. The whole dish was much too oily though. As deliciously good quality as the olive oil floating at the bottom of my plate was, it didn't look particularly appetising. And the fish and potatoes only benefited from it because they lay on a bed of mangold which weren't so lucky and drowned like the third class passengers on the Titanic. 
Pizza Silok
We had probably the best meal we had in the old town here. Another four cheese lasagne (not as good as the first one apparently) and a bowl of pasta with veal ragu. I was trying to be adventurous and went for the 'Dubrovnik specialty' but it turned out to be just a bowl of pasta. It was a very good bowl of pasta, I must say. Although the ragu tasted not unlike the escapists' ragu of blog post number 3 so all the criticisms I had of that still apply. I think they used fresh Dalmatian tomatoes in the ragu though and that helped.
To summarise, if you plan on eating out in Dubrovnik and being happy with your experience, be prepared to spend a lot of money. Otherwise, don't expect too much and perhaps try places outside of the Old Town. And maybe don't go with a vegetarian (the menu at Lucin Kantun looked good but didn't have anything vegetarian on it). And don't order chips - I think most places serve deep fried chips from a packet. I only wish that I'd managed to find some restaurants with real Dalmatian home food on it. There was one menu with four 'Dubrovnik specialties' all of which sounded homely and were less than half the price of everything else on the menu (around 35 kuna) but that place didn't cater to vegetarians so we ran away. Sigh.

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