vinodol, zagreb

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average european in downtown zagreb. incidentally, vinodol was the first restaurant we visited in zagreb, and was the start of what was a mild gastronomic journey through the country. before leaving for croatia I had read about someone leaving croatia without having identified what their cuisine was about, and I understand what that means now. croatian food isn’t distinct – not the ones we had anyway, and we did try – it strikes me as being an amalgamation of what we know to be european, without any significant twists or outstanding dishes.

we started this meal abysmally with a basket of bread (not complimentary) that was incredibly bad. it was sponge-like, with no fragrance, taste or crust. the lack of a crust was the worst experience of the whole thing, and the only way we could eat what little we did was because of the olive oil and vinegar served alongside. I note that it is non-complimentary because although I generally see no problems with paying, this was terrible and isn’t worth even the little we were charged for it.

after a rather protracted wait, our mains arrived. the first dish to land on the table prompted some giggles – you can see it above. it was a long fried ‘thing’ flopping and moving about on a very large and bare plate and we were worried of offending the waiter, but it was just so peculiar. this actually was a breaded tube of veal wrapped around ham and cheese, and was actually rather tasty. the presentation really was peculiar though.

we also ordered steak ‘zagreb-style’, which in this case meant steak with cheese. inoffensive, but nothing special. my own dish of grilled trout with almonds was very good in its simplicity and freshness though, and I appreciated the char. this is the first of quite a few fish dishes I would have in croatia.

what really lifted the experience of the meal were our appetizers of grilled squid and battered mushrooms. they were amazing. the squid was sweet and slightly charred and oh-so-brilliant. I was really impressed by the mushrooms though – I expected chestnut or button mushrooms but what we were given were chanterelles battered and very expertly fried without grease, and fantastic on its own.

we finished off with a slice of chocolate torte and raspberry strudel. the chocolate cake wasn’t anything special and was highly inoffensive, rather boring in fact. the strudel had a good filling that was tempered just right, but the strudel pastry was stale and had lost its crispness.

vinodol was packed out that night, such that we were relegated to sitting al fresco amidst the smoke (this I didn’t enjoy) so I am supposing that it is a very popular venue in zagreb. I would come back again for the mushrooms and squid, probably stay for the rest of the mains, but skip dessert.

located at Nikole Tesle 10, Zagreb, Croatia

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