Biberon, Split: Sushi and Cakes
On Friday 8th September 2017, we dined at the newly opened Biberon on Firule – did someone say sushi and cake?!
Split is on the up-and-up in regards to its gastronomical offer. It was only a few years ago where almost every restaurant was a copy-paste of each other – chicken and fries, steak and fries, seafood, pasta, pizza… And don’t get me wrong, I love the fresh produce and massive portions, but eventually, the lacking offer did get a little tiresome.
This has all but changed in the last few years with restaurants like Zinfandel, Corto Maltese, Articok, O’Zlata, Mazzgoon and Bokeria (just to name a few); then, even more recently we have had some true concept restaurants open with likes of Terminal F, Bokamorra Pizza & Cocktails and To Je Tako. There is now plenty on offer to satisfy most any gastronomer, but there is one aspect which still hasn’t quite caught up – international cuisine.
Daniela Rogulj recently wrote about getting her international-fix on a trip to Zagreb. The capital of Croatia can proudly boast an impressive array of international cuisine to suit any palate and budget. I was extremely jealous of her trip and dearly miss Thai, Indian and especially Japanese cuisine but it seems the latter may just be fixed.
Biberon recently renovated and opened a new location on Firule and don’t be fooled, while you may know them for their exquisite cakes, it turns out they have a new concept in mind too – sushi and cakes. They opened at the beginning of summer and we finally managed to head down and check them out. We had a fair idea the sushi was going to be good because Peter Stoyanov, aka ‘The Sushi Guy’ has taken over the kitchen as the head chef.
Credit: Frank Adelhardt Photography
Upon arrival, we were instantly impressed with the design and layout of Biberon – an open-plan, bright, chic, inviting space. Since we arrived for dinner at 6.30 pm (very early by Mediterranean standards), Peter had time to come out and chat to us about the menu – I always appreciate when a Chef a) has the time to do this and b) cares enough to do it.
Peter has expanded his menu from when he was at Bota, offering some hot dishes like yakitori chicken, bulgogi beef and pork belly skewers and a seared blue fin tuna fillet. We were also thrilled to see tempura vegetables and shrimp on the menu. The sushi menu is extensive, with all classics from Nigiri and Spicy Tuna rolls to a spider roll – which, I will go out on a limb and say, no one else in Split is offering tempura soft shell crab!
Honestly, we were struggling with what to choose; so, when in doubt, order it all – with, a little help from the chef! After speaking to Peter, we decided we really wanted to try a selection of the entire menu, so he suggested one of each of the skewers, tempura shitake mushrooms and tempura shrimp, a selection of sushi rolls and seared tuna just for good measures. We were up for the challenge as it had been too long since either of us had good sushi or Japanese.
The skewers came out and they were each cooked to perfection. Peter was way too modest and told us that he hadn’t quite nailed the bulgogi beef yet, but it was hands-down our favourite. The beef was cooked perfectly medium-rare and beautifully marinated, it literally melted in our mouths.
Next, the tempura shitake mushrooms and shrimps were divine. Tempura is not as easy as everyone may think, many people over do it, making a thick batter that eventually goes soggy. But this was a light, fluffy coating that was cooked until perfectly crispy. I would go back to Biberon just to have the fried shrimp! The seared tuna was seasoned and cooked exactly as it should be – so many restaurants overcook tuna in Croatia (maybe a cultural thing), but tuna should be cooked rare to medium-rare, never more.
And then, there was sushi. Well, I don’t think I need to go on about this, Peter hasn’t made a name for himself as ‘The Sushi Guy’ for no reason. Our personal highlights were the spicy tuna and spider rolls. When we first arrived, after explaining the menu, the team told us that they also have the best cakes in Split (big claim) and that we would have to try some for dessert. We thought there was no chance we could manage dessert as well, but we had come this far and if Biberon’s ‘thing’ is going to be sushi and cakes then we had to test it out, right?
Being cheesecake fans (maybe even snobs), we wanted to test their original cheesecake and raspberry cheesecake, and they threw in a pistachio cake just because. While the pistachio cream was gorgeous, pistachios have never really been my thing; however, the cheesecakes were two of the best I have had in a very long time! Light, ricotta cheesecakes and the raspberry jam on top wasn’t like something out of a jar, it was bursting with flavour – if my grandmother grew raspberries and made a jam, that is what it would taste like!
All this food and nothing to drink? Of course, we had a few drinks; we began with prosecco then tried one of their gin cocktails – Daniela got a lemongrass gin & tonic while I went for yuzu with gin. Unique, refreshing and on-point. They also have a very impressive wine list, from local reds to French Rose.
Wait a second, the night wasn’t quite over. Earlier in the evening, we were told there would be live music beginning at 10 pm. We thought there was absolutely no way that we would still be in Biberon come 10 pm. Again, we were wrong. Our relaxed dinner, easily flowed into the late evening and we were thrilled to be able to sit and enjoy the very cool tunes of Mia and Joe. There are not many venues in Split suited to live music (unfortunately); while quite a few restaurants get bands in from time-to-time, the musicians are normally tucked into a pokey corner, not so at Biberon – the open space allows perfectly for live music.
I have dined at many great restaurants in and around Split this year, but in terms of an overall experience: food, ambiance and service, this may just be one of my favourites.
To find more from Biberon, visit their page here.
All photos by Tash Pericic.