The other day I went to Split with a phenomenal American Blues guitar player Yogi Lonich. He had a concert in Split’s Circus on Saturday and since we spent the night in the city, I said there was no point of returning to Zagreb on a holy Sunday on an empty stomach. I have suggested eating at the most famous fish restaurant in Split – Zrno Soli.
They have recently been recommended by Michelin and what is good enough for Michelin, is good enough for us. As soon as we walked in, we noticed fresh fish. There was no: “Loooois!! Some city boys have arrived. Go defrost the hake from last New years, maybe they’ll order fish.” They have only the best fish for all of their customers and besides us, they have also served simple folks like the queen of Denmark, Thailand princess, presidents, premiers (Medvedev…), Zucchero, Axl Rose, Barcelona and Juventus football players…and they are also the official restaurant of Split’s local football team – Hajduk.
I have skipped breakfast that day so I was starving. I could not wait for the first course so I used the moment of their inattention to carve some prosciutto and make a homemade sandwich for myself. My folks are from the shit hole village Chucherye where pork is greatly cherished. Yogi on the other hand has Dalmatian roots so he is more fascinated by fish. It’s not that I don’t like fish. The other day I bought all of the vegetable oil and veggies sardine cans they had at my local store. They were on sale due to the expiration date. I simply could not resist sale.
We were greeted by a lovely marketing manager Katarina. She excitedly said how on the 15th of February in London they have served 130 people of which 30 were from the royal family, but they have never ever been so excited as when they found out Yogi and I were coming for lunch.
She introduced us to their culinary star, a young chef Stjepan Vukadin who has decided to make us a few of the fish courses he would normally serve to the British royalty.
– Cold hors d’oeuvre (a common dentex tartar with lime and orange flavors, cuttlefish tuile, baked celery, olive oil snow, fig beads, wasabi)
This was better than any canned fish I have ever tried. Perversion of flavour. Complete sensory perfection.
Afterwards we had the first warm hors d’oeuvre (green mangel tortellini filled with cottage cheese, prosciutto and prawn in a shrimp sauce, parmesan chips, fried onions)
I do not know what inspires him for such creations, but neither I nor Yogi have complained. Each course had a story to tell and we were impatient to get to the next one.
– Second warm hors d’oeuvre (crispy squid in polenta next to a celery and sweet potato cream, sweet and spicy honey and mustard sauce)
These were the best and the most original squid I have ever tried. They actually tasted like real squid and not like remains of old car tires I was so use to. Turmeric and squid go together like Keith Richards and alcohol. I even had to steal from Yogi’s plate because I couldn’t get enough of the tasty dish.
We rinsed our throats with Kozlović Malvasia and Yogi liked the wine so much, he sang a new folk hit in fluent Croatian out on the terrace. I use to have luscious locks flowing around me in the wind, but now is not the time nor place to talk about my baldness.
The time has arrived for the main course – Adriatic Monkfish medallions on a leek and chanterelle risotto.
This is a real risotto, not that crap with peas my mother use to serve me.
Lunch without desert is like Trump without fake hair. We couldn’t decide what to try so they brought us a selection of sweet bites, specialities of the house.
If someone dares offer me a cake out of a box after this, we will have a problem. I have been waiting my whole life for someone to serve me like this. A kg of these pistachios costs 200 Euro. It’s not like that store brand crap you buy when you get your minimum wage for the month. These were delicacies for the chosen ones.
I do not remember the last time we had such a great meal, or any meal really. It’s a hard life for us artists. In the end we just had to take a photo with the brilliant young chef who you can follow on Instagram.
Uvala baluni 8 (ACI marine Split)
Tel:Â 021 399 333
Author: Josip Novosel aka Gastro Snob, self proclaimed Dear Leader, lover of baboon’s index fingers and fried mediterranean monk seals, corresponding member of the “There’s no food like pork” magazine, a friend to the wealthy, a tycoon and a snob, but above all a human.