Sailing in Croatia: Michelin Guide to Croatia’s Coastal Restaurants
On March 1st 2018, the Michelin Guide released their 2018 edition and the Croatian gastronomy scene has a lot to be excited about. Michelin awarded three restaurants a star and recommended 59 others; unsurprisingly, a lot of these restaurants are along the coast, so we have created a ‘Michelin Guide to Croatia’s Coastal Restaurants.’
Sailing and gastronomy, you may not realise it but they go hand-in-hand. Not just because there is something about the sea and sailing which increases the appetite 10-fold; but because while you are sailing the myriad of gorgeous Croatian islands, the next best way (in my humble opinion) to experience it, is through the cuisine.
On the 1st March 2018, the Michelin released their 2018 guide and Croatia has reason to be excited with two new restaurants awarded a star (including the already one-star restaurant in Rovinj) and no less than 59 restaurants recommended or awarded the Gourmand Bib award (acknowledgment of a great menu with a reasonable price).
Among the restaurants listed, 22 are along the coast between Split and Dubrovnik which makes it quite convenient for one of the more popular sailing routes, Split – Dubrovnik. Working on a yacht part of my role is to recommend restaurants along our route and I always proffer restaurants for various reasons – fine dining, ambiance, authenticity, fresh seafood, unique… So, it comes as no surprise that many of the restaurants I recommend are also suggested by Michelin.
The gourmet scene in Croatia is only just being unearthed, last year I attended the Split B2B – a conference which gathered dozens of agents and agencies all with a vested interest and passion to highlight gourmet tourism in Croatia. Now, thanks to recognition from one of the most well-respected authorities on gastronomy, Croatia might begin to be taken seriously on the world stage as a gourmet destination.
Which is exactly why I have decided to write a Michelin Guide to Coastal Restaurants because I am sure there are plenty of people who would love to combine their sailing holiday, with a gastronomical experience.
Ok, I know I said I was writing a guide for a sailing route between Split and Dubrovnik but I just can’t bring myself to leave out Pelegrini Restaurant in Šibenik which was just awarded its first Michelin-star. Šibenik is a town and area worth discovering anyway, so if you have an extra day or two in Split before you set sail, spend a day in Šibenik and enjoy lunch or dinner at Pelegrini Restaurant.
“Situated opposite the beautiful cathedral of St James, this restaurant has a few small tables arranged outside on the steps in summer and is named after the fine old building in which it is housed. The decor here is a light, elegant mix of old and new and the service excellent. “Rudi” Stefan, the self-taught owner-chef, puts plenty of energy into expressing the best of himself and the region, creating modern meat and fish dishes from top-quality ingredients. The tasting menu allows you to create your own dining experience by choosing the exact number of courses you require and the individual dishes which tempt you.”
Next up is Split, which has four Michelin-recommended restaurants and one Bib Gourmand recommendation. So, if you do have a couple of days spare you may want to spend them exploring and eating your way through the city. I won’t list all the restaurants, but you can see our full Michelin Guide to Split here. I will just tease you with one restaurant – Zrni Soli which I intend on following closely as I believe exciting things are coming from this team; it is also ideally located near the ACI Marina.
“Enjoy views of boats and yachts, as well as of the sea and the centre of Split from the terrace of this restaurant located on the first floor of the ACI Marina. The classic, renowned cuisine focuses on fish and seafood, which diners can choose directly from the display cabinet. This “grain of salt” (the name of the restaurant) is an excellent choice for a delicious dining experience.”
Makarska isn’t always a destination on a sailing itinerary between Split and Dubrovnik but with its picturesque coastal town, surreal backdrop of the Biokovo mountain range and stretches of pristine beaches, there is no reason it couldn’t be a stop en-route; especially with the promise of a great dining experience. Here, Michelin has recommended the restaurant Jeny which has been open and family-run since 1986 and offers panoramic views of the Hvar canal and surrounding islands, 300-metres above sea-level.
“Standing in the upper panoramic part of the town, this restaurant is renowned for its friendly welcome and service, as well as for its cuisine which focuses on locally sourced ingredients to which it adds a hint of contemporary style.”
This was where I was a little surprised, no mention of any restaurants in Hvar town – like Laganini or Passarola but a deserving recommendation of the restaurant Apolon which sits at the end of the promenade in Stari Grad, a beautiful, classic dining experience. You can literally dock right in front of the restaurant and step off your yacht and straight into dinner.
“Facing the charming quiet harbour of Starigrad, this restaurant boasts minimalist decor in its dining room and a large terrace with sea views. The menu features a selection of delicious contemporary Mediterranean-style dishes.”
Ah, Korčula town, the beautiful medieval fortressed town and one of my favourite destinations on a 7-day sailing route. Korčula has given us many things, including the famous explorer Marco Polo, Pošip wine, Žrnovski Makaruni, the traditional Moreška dance and much more. It is also a wonderful destination for all things food and wine; the fact that this tiny town has three Michelin recommended restaurants should speak for itself. Here, Michelin recommends Konoba Mate (which is a 15-mint drive out of Korčula town), Lešić Dimitri Restaurant and Filippi.
“It’s well worth heading a few miles into the island’s interior to eat at this charming family tavern where the owners not only raise goats and chickens but also grow the vegetables used in their dishes. The whole family works hard to create the simple, yet delicious food served here. Specialties include ravioli stuffed with a creamy goat sauce and braised lamb with peas and potatoes.”
Credit: Jutarnji List/Konoba Mate; Biljana Biba
We have a soft-spot for Lešić Dimitri, especially after TCN’s editor visited last year and had lunch with the owners, read his full course-by-course journey here. And, every guest I have ever sent to LD has returned beyond impressed.
“The chef at this restaurant on the beautiful seafront promenade creates Mediterranean cuisine with a modern twist. The restaurant is very popular with tourist and locals alike.”
“This professionally run restaurant on the old town seafront promenade serves excellent Mediterranean cuisine in an elegant setting with an attractive outdoor area and subtle lighting.”
Lastly, we reach Dubrovnik, the pearl of the Adriatic and the pièce de résistance of our coastal, gastronomy journey. With one Michelin-star restaurant and 11 other Michelin-recommended restaurants, Dubrovnik has set extraordinary standards and gives gastronomers another reason to explore the many streets and alleyways. I won’t list all of the restaurants here but I will mention Restaurant 360 which was just awarded its Michelin star. For years, Restaurant 360 has set a high culinary standard with their Mediterranean style dishes with unique flavour pairings, tied together with a gastronomical flair; all from their stunning location within Dubrovnik’s fortressed walls, overlooking the harbour.
“A striking restaurant built into the historic town walls sit on the curved battlement terrace for an impressive view of the old port. The sexy cocktail bar and lounge has intimate booths and the modern open kitchen features a decorative tank teeming with fish. Classic dishes are presented in a modern style.”
And there you have it, a 7-day sailing and dining experience along the Croatian coast. To see the Michelin’s full Croatia Guide, click here.
All photos were taken from official pages of mentioned restaurants.